Bring out the dead

I have this joke I thought of yesterday that has no home. I’m not working on anything and even then I don’t know how I’d fit it in. It goes like this:

Man: Dad passed away last weekend.

Woman: Oh no I’m sorry.

Man: It was time. He was in a lot of pain at the end.

Woman: That’s tough. Was it cancer?

Man: No he was hit by a train. I hear that hurts like hell.

So you see my Dilemma- it’s a very specific joke and it needs to live in a certain sort of thing. It’s too big for twitter and too specific to be handed off to someone else who’s writing something else.

So I have it and it’s sitting here..

It started with the combo fact that I was on the train this morning and it seems that Facebook is either dead people or babies these days. I was telling a coworker that she had reached the age when you go to a lot of weddings. Which seems to happen in your late 20’s if I recall correctly. I guess I have reached the age when people have babies or die.

Which brings us to Prince, who did not have a baby.

Much has been said about the sadness around the death of the purple one, so I don’t need to re-explain what everyone’s already talked about.  Prince was an innovator, and while I wasn’t always a fan- I was always able to see that he was doing something completely different than anyone else in a way that was completely new. There are, of course, songs that I love- not especially the hits, but that’s not to say I live under a rock and therefore don’t know all the words the the whole of purple rain…

However I’d like to back out and discuss the whole way that social media has change the way we experience death. Especially celebrity death, but even deaths on a personal level.

Celebrity deaths, I have heard, seem to be happening more “often” than before. I’ve seen meme cursing 2016 as the stealer of legends- because of Bowie, Glenn Frey*, and now Prince. Yes, this is tragic, but no, it’s not unusual. People die all the time, however, in today’s modern age we knew that Prince was dead with in hours of his body being discovered, we could instantly launch into talking about it and we have a public forum for each of us to do so.

2016 is not a “year of disaster”, it’s just a year. Let me give you an example: I thought back to deaths that I registered from growing up, a celebrity death that I remember distinctly. I thought of two right off the top of my head: Elvis Presley and John Lennon. I remember that I heard about both rather rapidly although, since I was a kid, I don’t know how rapidly. Let’s pick one: Lennon (1980). I can’t tell you a thing about anyone else that died that year, however a quick search of the internet tells me that in addition to Lennon there were Bon Scott, John Bonham, Steve McQueen, Mae West, Alfred Hitchcock, Jimmy Durante, Ian Curtis and Peter Sellers. Those are just the ones that came up on the first website I grabbed off of google. So I doubt that list is even comprehensive.

Which makes me think about 1980- did people curse that year? I don’t recall. Somehow I doubt it- but you can’t argue that these people are legendary. I don’t remember any adults around me even commenting.

That doesn’t mean that having a year when Bowie and Prince died isn’t sad- it just means that people are going to keep dying. I mean, we only have one Ramone and half the Clash and those guys were kids compared to Bowie. So before you curse this year, remember that you’re going to curse every year from here on out, especially if you only face backwards. I also wonder about all of the hub bub on facebook. There are some people I expect to express sadness- people who I know love that artist and have forever. They need to use the support group that is social media to discuss. However I also saw, just this morning, someone who had posted “Here’s the obligatory post about Prince”, you know what? You don’t need to join the conversation. Just let it lie.

But further, the way we see any death these days seems to be via facebook. People you know, people who are famous, even people posting about friends, parents, whomever… who are long dead.  I think part of it is a public rending of cloth, a chance to say “I feel bad about this”. Some of it is also a coming together of grief, especially the public figures.  And some if it is, I guess, keeping the memory alive. However, even while I’ve been occasionally guilty of the public rending of cloth, I tend to think that grief of any kind is better expressed in person.

I’ve also always wondered about celebrating “death days”… well not celebrating- more like recognizing. Isn’t it better to talk about them in your regular life (IRL), tell stories, remember moments than it is to say something to the effect of “it’s been x years since you died and that’s stinky” on the Internet? Maybe that’s just me.

Which brings us to the conceit of the blog, which is if the only music that’s good was made 20 years ago**

Old Song: In deference to Prince let’s dig into the catalog. I’ve heard Chuck Prophet cover Controversy from the Prince world recently and it’s a Prince song that I forgot how much I liked. I found a version online of Prince doing it– it says “official” so this might be one of the few times Prince allowed music onto Youtube. Anyway, it does all the things that made Prince great. It’s got about a 100 hooks, but it’s also got a groove that’s hard to get out of your head. It’s funk, but it’s pop, but it’s soul. It’s the quintessential Prince song from exactly one Prince era. Prince wasn’t completely like Bowie in that respect but you have to appreciate the fact that he never stood still as a artist. He was always thinking of the next thing. Well, now we’ll just have to go into the catalog and appreciate all of the things we may have overlooked.

New Song: Fraser A Gorman. He has a bunch of quality songs, however, because you haven’t heard of him let’s start with the “hit”. Shiny Gun is what amounts to a hit for this Australian kid with a folk rocky sound. It’s a great song, but you should use it as the appetizer for digging into the rest of his stuff. He’s got two records out now and both are full of gems. However, this one was the song that put him on the map. It’s the first song of his that I heard. It easily puts him the the same breath as Wilco, which is a feat in itself. It also makes me want to pay attention to him as he continues to develop. Remember that he’s only 23. Also it shouldn’t shock you that he’s being championed by another Australian who deserves your attention- 2015 Grammy nominee & wonder kind, Courtney Barnett.

 

*I’m not going to argue that he wasn’t a legend even if I hated the eagles like it was a full time job

** News Flash- you’ve got bad news on the horizon from this point forward.

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