Friday, April 22, 2016

The Lucky Ones

I try to write big things on the big machine. But I'm not at home and this little phone will have to be my monitor. So with Swype and a full heart, do I submit a post for the great loss of today. Thank you for your forbearance.


The Lucky Ones

Legacies can be monstrous things - especially when we're forced to assess them prematurely. Then the enormity of grief is almost beside the point as memories gather in gusts, almost literally blowing in, mixing with real tears because sometimes the ones we lose wrote the theme to our very lives.

This man - tiny only in the physical sense - was built of mystery, prolific, not only marching to his own beat but, in its wake, becoming a cosmic permission-giver for us to groove with him... His strangeness was our beloved familiar.

Issac Bashevic Singer said that if you tell about of place really well, you tell about the whole world. That is, I venture, how it was possible that Prince rearranged the storm surges of his own hard path, turning it into not only sounds, but images, too, almost too powerful to simply call music. The low blows of his childhood were turned inside out like flipping all the petals on a tulip so that it looks like an entirely new kind of flower.

The aluminum, damnable taste of grief is a shock to the system, but even more so when it arrives unexpectedly and from afar.

Some obituaries are written well in advance of their time: Michael Jackson was so far out on a sliver of a limb that by the time he died, the surprise was that he stayed as long as he did. Maybe that's what he and Prince had in common: Although loaded with immense power and vision, they were each frangible, radiating ethereal qualities not to be confused for weakness.

And so the satellite dirges begin. The litanies of "if onlys: They rush, whispered through the ranks of strangers and now, because it's possible to document each waking moment of any given life with a mere click, crop and save, there will be those who claim to know his last hours. Let us not go there. Why? Because that path belongs to the hideous: The death reenactments where blame morphs into virtual prosecution, persecution and chronologically determined final steps. It's bullshit and it doesn't matter anymore.

Every legend has those to whom they're truly beloved - the actual family, the real friends, loving them the whole while, past the insane pomp and through the pimptastic crazy ride of fame. It's hard to find the needle, much less the skinny thread to send our prayers for their comfort.

Yet grief is nothing if not efficient: It cuts into time, distance and even old misunderstandings. Let then, our decency move like invisible bodyguards into their circle now to protect and comfort them.

Grief commemorates, too. In real and fake ways. Perhaps folks will find partially written songs, troves of unreleased ones: things they'll presume to dissect. What he left was enough. (In my dream, I can see him thirty years older, rocking on a porch doing nothing and being the richer for it.)

Artistic legacies are heaviest when exits are premature, and, man, there will never be enough chairs for its entourage. You know. Talkin' 'bout the sunglasses in the nighttime crowd. But some folks' talent is so big, with so many layers that only time will give it the room it needs to fan out.

Losing someone so magical, illuminating, cosmically funky and important to planetary coolness, makes it seem like all the water is sloshing out of the pool at once. And these deaths of late have been hard ones! Stars falling and falling like a mean ass game of lead dominoes: Bowie, Haggard and now Prince, proving the ghastly axiom of bad things happening in threes. (I will not defer to those insisting Merle is not in their ranks. I'm a leftie from Alabama: Take it up with me and Dickie Betts.)

And though we didn't really know them, in a way, we're exactly the ones who can see how far their wild beat blew. And know just how crazy good they were. That such talent existed in our lifetime is the blessing which circles back to the pain...

We're getting drenched in the sweet rain of that remembering - huge, unrelenting drops of it - OK. Purple rain. Blue tears. Faded stripes on ticket stubs. We had seat numbers to the revolution... And weren't we the lucky ones?

Links Contact