Monday, December 26, 2016
The Cursed Year 2016, and the Dying of a Musical Generation
There are only five days to go before the hideous year 2016 limps off the stage. But it still seems determined to prove that it was one of the worst years ever.
For not only did it leave us the steaming turd Donald Trump, but it also took so many great artists with it. Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Prince, and so many others.
It announced ahead of time the death of Gord Downie.
And now it has also claimed George Michael.
Dead way too young, after a celebrated but tumultuous life.
His talents as a singer, songwriter and music producer made George Michael one of the world's biggest-selling artists.
But there were times when his battle with drugs and encounters with the police made lurid headlines that threatened to eclipse his musical talents.
A tumultuous life that was reflected in some of the tributes pouring in from all over the world. With some claiming that the fact he was gay shouldn't be held against him. As if it ever should be held against anyone.
And a few grumpy old LGBT people muttering that he might have been a big star, but he was a VERY bad example for young gay people.
But George did apologize for that, and I think the young and most of the others will forgive him and consider him an LGBT hero.
Enfolded in that wonderful music—and the stories of drugs and drinking, and the scandals of later years—consider another George Michael. The one who told it as directly as possible; who, as time went on, didn’t hide when scandal or downfall or public shame came knocking, but faced all those things not just stoically, but with a mischievous smile and brave to-hell-with-it dismissal of all those who would do him down.
Not for him the slinking away from the press after crises befell him. No tail between legs for George Michael. He not only came out, he wrote and talked about sex and having sex, and shamed all those that would try to shame him.
For just being himself, and refusing to cower before those who would humiliate him.
And what makes his death, and the death of all the others even sadder, is that if you thought 2016 was the year the music died, the worst is still to come.
What happens when “live fast, die young” becomes “grow old, die slowly”? Like it or not, we’re about to find out. There’s a Great Cull coming, and rock ’n’ roll music will never be the same.
Soon rock ’n’ roll’s entire first generation — the generation that made it the dominant musical force on the planet, anyway, although Chuck Berry turned 90 this year and they don’t come much more first-generation than that — will gradually leave us.
A world without David Bowie seemed inconceivable a year ago. Now imagine a world without Keith, without Mick Jagger (73), without Bob Dylan (75), without Paul McCartney (74), without Neil Young (71), without Pete Townsend (71), without Roger Daltrey (72), without Roger Waters (73).
And I don't even want to think about that. Because quite frankly I can't imagine a world without Keith Richards, or Gord Downie, or any of the others...
But this is also true.
It’s sad to lose our heroes, but we can take some comfort in knowing they maintained a commitment to artistry, that they never lost their passion for and their faith in the power of music until they took their last breaths.
Music is immortal, after all, even if we are not. That has to mean something.
That does mean something. And think George Michael will be remembered in the same way. He never lost his faith in the power of music, he rejected the trappings of pop stardom, He fought the Sony octopus for years, he was incredibly generous.
And he was a star, as you can see just by the way he throws himself into a rehearsal for the famous Freddie Mercury tribute show.
But then "Somebody to love" could be the soundtrack of his life. And it was Freddie's song.
Who was another LGBT hero.
And who also threw himself into that song as you can see here, in this clip from a show in Montreal in 1981...
It think it will always be Freddie Mercury's song.
But now at least on some rainbow coloured star somewhere, him and George Michael can sing that song together.
Are you ready Freddie?
Here comes trouble. Here comes our brother George....