It’s been a sad few weeks in the history of music, with the passing of people many of us feel we have known all our lives. David Bowie, Lemmy Kilmister from Motorhead, Glenn Frey from the Eagles and our own Stevie Wright all departed within days of each other.
It seems a random check of Facebook brings sad news on an almost daily basis.
One death stands out more than the others, that of David Bowie. It’s probably because he was the great survivor, whose hits spanned decades, making him familiar to people from different generations. Also, the fact his illness was graciously kept from public view compounded the shock when news of his death broke.
Readers who were teenagers during the 1970s probably feel the loss more acutely than others because Bowie was such a huge part of their teen soundtrack. Rebel Rebel, The Jean Genie, Diamond Dogs – for folk now in their fifties, those songs reverberate with memories of growing up, rebelling and discovering who we were.
Perhaps even more wrenching is the realisation with Bowie’s passing that there are very few contemporary artists who will achieve what he did over his decades-long career, which was to remain relevant. The aching sadness is that he was with us for so long. And then he was gone.
If there is one lesson to take away from this loss, it’s this: we all have constants in our lives, people whose presence and influence has shaped us. They might be parents, progeny or siblings or just good mates who have been ever-present.
The passage of time, the fickle hand of fate and circumstance, they can all take from us the people we hold dear. It’s not something we should be overshadowed by but it should remind us to make known to those people precious to us just how much we appreciate them.
We should take solace, too, in the fact that while these giants in our lives will eventually move on, their legacy, memory and influence will stay with us. The parent or grandparent who passes on never really leaves us entirely – their physical presence is gone but their memory doesn’t go anywhere.
Likewise Bowie. He’s gone but his music lives on. Indeed, in the immediate wake of his death it’s probably more apparent than it has been for years, as fans reconnect with it.
The same story will play out for Motorhead and Eagles fans, just as it did for Michael Jackson fans after he died. And Elvis – he never really left the stadium at all.
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