FOR modern musicians, the idea of collaborating with one of the icons of the era is the stuff dreams are made of, and, in a rhythmic symmetry, many listeners tend to dream of young upstarts being put in their place by the real rock ‘n’ roll veterans.
So when wailing wonders Coldplay pleaded with David Bowie for input on their new record, and the smoking Starman tartly replied, “it’s not very good is it”, the world made sense again.
But what would the sharp-suited, quick-witted Bowie have made of the outpouring of sadness at his passing?
What profanity would the whiskey-glugging Motorhead fronting Lemmy have screamed from the bowels of hell when he saw the very establishment he rallied against all his life pay homage to his ‘quirky free-spirit’?
Imagine the chuckles Ronnie Corbett and Victoria Wood will have at our expense over a cup of tea in the eleventh dimension.
There’s something very unnatural, even unhealthy, about the way society tends to deal with death, especially when discussing people who have lived astonishing lives, changing the world forever in ways no one could previously have imagined.
The strangest part of it is that, when we attend funerals of friends or relatives who have led long and remarkable lives, we usually dress up in black, sing macabre hymns, witness the pained silence of those around us – and then unanimously agree that the dearly departed would be encouraging us all to crack open the wine, laugh furiously at all those timeless moments we shared, and head home to our families, full of ‘joie de vivre,’ as Del Boy might say.
And that’s usually exactly what happens. When we leave a funeral we often experience a powerful catharsis, reflecting on how much stronger the deceased was than we ever gave them credit for, being grateful to have known them, and marching on with a new lust for life.
But when it comes to wider society we lose something of that, and the potent individual emotions of loss and mourning take on a life of their own, as people nobody have ever heard of, nor care much for their opinion, appear from the woodwork to loudly proclaim just how sad they are, as though grief were a competition.
In the social media age, people will very boldly paint their painstakingly composed portrait picture in the French tri-colours so they can show everybody just how touched they are by terrorism. Brilliant characters like Alan Rickman and Paul Daniels would surely have been among the first to tell the internet to just give it a rest.
Oddly enough when we are confronted with real tragedies, whether it is hundreds of Africans perishing in the high seas, or an earthquake in some mosquito infested hellhole, even Facebook shrugs its giant corporate shoulders.
So perhaps we should save the sombre mourning for the good who die young, and express a little more joy and wonder when marvelling at those older souls, the likes of which we’ll never see again.