THE RECENT AND UNEXPECTED DEATHS of musicians David Bowie and Glen Frey left many in shock. We played their music nonstop, hometown squares became shrines, and we turned to the Internet and each other to find camaraderie and comfort.
Be honest: Did you listen to Bowie’s music the week before he died? The Eagles? Did you stop your world and entertain deep thoughts about what these and other music icons of your generation did to make your life better, richer, fuller?
Of course not. And that’s okay, you weren’t supposed to. These men were Gods; they were never going to die. And when you believe people are going to be with you forever, you stop thinking about them. You take them for granted and assume they will always be there whenever you need them.
Until they aren’t. Until our Gods become mortal and remind us that no matter who we are, no matter where we’ve been or where we are going, we all are bound to end up in the same place.
When our Gods become mortal, we are reminded of our own mortality. That’s why their deaths hit some of us so hard. We were filled with regret and guilt; we played their music in vain hopes that this would bring them back.
Fortunately, there are no statutes of limitations on mourning a loss or celebrating a life. When our Gods become mortal we can better appreciate what they left behind. We can play their music without reservation. We can cheer with Bruce Springsteen when he sings “Rebel Rebel” to honor Bowie, or cry with him when he does a somber acoustic version of “Take it Easy” by Frey.
So go to Spotify or Apple Music right now and play Bowie back to back. Play every Eagles album. And when you’re done, play some Zeppelin and The Who; play Chuck Berry and Smokey Robinson, Sting and Peter Gabriel. Listen to Ozzy and Bon Jovi; feel Aretha’s soul and Santana’s groove. Make today the day when you play their music not to reminisce but to move forward — to make new memories, not to honor the past.
When our Gods become mortal, we won’t care that they won’t live forever. We will just be grateful they lived and shared their lives with us.