Thanks For The Art: When a Celebrity Passes
2016 has been a particularly rough year for celebrity deaths, with David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Nancy Regan, Maurice White, Patty Duke, Gary Shandling, Abe Vigoda and now today's passing of Merle Haggard. And we're barely into March.
Inevitably there's going to be one person on your social media feed wondering why you specifically or anyone in general is mourning or remembering a now lost artist. We didn't know them personally, they didn't know us personally. Why is it hitting us so hard?
It's hitting us so hard because we have fond memories of sitting on the porch with our parents or grandparents listening to Merle or Eagles records. We have fond memories of crowding around the TV to watch The Patty Duke Show, Barney Miller, or The Larry Sanders Show with the family after dinner. Of how perfect Rickman was as Snape or Hans Gruber. Of how Earth, Wind & Fire's September played at your high school dance and you just had a great time groovin' with your friends.
No, you don't know David Bowie. He didn't know you. But Alan Rickman, Patty Duke, Merle Haggard... all of them, they're all part of your memories. Deeply ingrained in who you are and how you grew up. Those memories are a part of you, and by connection, so are the artists attached to those memories.
One of George Carlin's old bits was about how Ed Sullivan was cancelled while on hiatus, so no one ever really said, "Thanks for the Beatles. And Elvis." That's always stuck with me. No one had the opportunity to thank him for what he did. (Thanks Carlin, for the thought, and the laughs). So when I post an "In Memoriam" link, I like to say "Thanks for the songs/laughs/movies" whatever they gave me as their art, and in turn became great memories.
You don't know them, but they're part of you.
Thanks for the music, Merle.