Sunday, January 22, 2017

Love Is Stronger Than Death

It’s a bit of a cliché already to remark that 2016 was in some way a year of deaths. By which, people generally mean famous deaths. Yes, for pop music, there are the obvious ones: David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, Merle Haggard, Prince Buster, Bernie Worrell, Alan Vega, Vanity, Scotty Moore, and David Mancuso. Let us also mention the ones who made crappy music but who also passed away: Glenn Frey, Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, Leonard Cohen, Pete Burns, etc. I do not wish ill on them.

There were, of course, many other famous people who died in 2016: Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, John Glenn, Ed Mitchell, Mohammed Ali, Alan Rickman, Umberto Eco, George Martin, Gary Shandling, Alvin Toffler, Edward Albee, Fidel Castro, Debbie Reynolds, and William Christopher (the guy who played the chaplain on M.A.S.H.!)

But I also personally felt surrounded by death. My beloved cousin (and basically a sister to me), Shampa, unexpectedly died in February. This was the most devastating loss I've had in my life. It's still hard to process even after all these months. I'll never forget her.

A close friend Ben, died in July. A lovely academic colleague, Ann Johnson, died in December.

Mark Fisher, k-punk, died recently, took his own life. I did not know him but almost felt like I died, having voraciously read his blog in the early 2000s. Simon Reynolds has written a wonderful eulogy to him. He was only just a bit older than me.

As I get older, there will be more deaths, I am sure, in my life.

Perhaps it's time for more earnest emotion, and less esoteric rumination. It's time to not be afraid to express those things that make us live and love. So anyway, Matt Johnson wrote this song a long time ago. I never really liked it when it came out, thought it was a bit embarassing. But as I get older, I kind of appreciate its unabashed lack of pretension. Love is, indeed, stronger than death. We have to believe that sometimes, don't we?

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