Only the Good Die Young

Posted: June 28, 2009 in Words In Progress

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances.” As cliché as this quote may be, there’s no doubt it’s one of my favourites. After centuries, Shakespeare still says things that make sense to me, and to my life. And for this eulogy that I write for all musicians who have died young, but within their short-lived lives have changed the lives of many of who have lived on, I can’t think of a quote better crafted, a quote more befitting of the situation.

When Michael Jackson died early in the evening, I found out when I read my friend’s status message that said Michael Jackson R.I.P. At that moment, I felt what I’m sure many people felt when they first found out that one of the world’s greatest music artists was in fact, dead. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed unreal.
It’s rather amazing how we allow ourselves to dwell in a reality when we’re more prepared for the death of people closest to us, but as far as the famous supernovas of the silver screen go, we lead ourselves to believe that they are the icons of eternity. Last night, my little bubble of unreality burst and a thin ray of truth came shining in. In so many ways, I needed that jolt to realize that a lot in life is merely an illusion.

I remember stories that my mother used to tell me about another king, the King of Rock ‘n Roll, Elvis Presley. She used to speak fondly of him, today she still does, with the kind of enthusiasm and child-like excitement that I used to show every time my best friend from school, Jamila and I watched the latest BSB or Boyzone video when we were in the 7th grade. My mom would tell me again and again about all the books and LP records she had of Elvis back in our home in Kerala. When we went there, we brought back a small part of that collection. I read those books time and again, and listened to almost all of the cassettes she had. At the time that Elvis died, pop stardom wasn’t quite what it is now. Back then, you couldn’t lay a hand on the King. He was like an icon who lived up in his ivory tower, far away from reality. And still, when he died at age 42, my mom cried for him. She felt bad, like a part of herself was lost never to be found again. It’s amazing the effect one stranger can have on another. Makes me wonder, was he a stranger to her at all?

As a child, I was exposed to an eclectic range of music. My dad was big on the 80s; he like the Eagles, the Cars, ZZ Top, Van Halen and well, you get the picture. My mom liked the 60s; Elvis, the Beatles, BeeGees, the Supremes. My cousins went anywhere from Wham! to Meatloaf. It was the initial few years of my growing up that captured my interest in music. But once I got on, I was hooked. And till today, I’ve never asked the question why. I’ve only always wanted to know whom.

And this is where Freddie Mercury stood out. The weird walk, the misshaped face, that ridiculously effeminate body. But what a voice, what a musician. Even in death, he made us face some of the most controversial issues of his time. Until today, his disturbed spirit resounds in every cover version of Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s almost like he’s lacing the icing on the cake.

To the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, let’s stop to remember the 11 year old lead singer of the Jackson 5. Michael Jackson was no ordinary kid from the start. He gave the world a new genre in pop culture with his ridiculously expensive outfits, the unforgettable baby face, and the incredible power of his voice. If it wasn’t for Michael Jackson, we would never have heard the likes of Thriller, Off the Wall or Dangerous, three of my all time favourites. When he trademarked the ‘Moonwalk’, he gave Neil Armstrong a run for his money. He has done more for the children of this world than most of us do for our own. He has used music in so many ways to create an influence in people’s lives; whether it’s been world peace or feel good, Jackson had a song to say it. And a dance to follow.

Without Michael Jackson, the world is a sadder place than it was before. We’ve lost a little rhythm, skipped a few beats and are a couple of pitches off. Though he has gone, his music will live on. Like Elvis lives on through my mom and Freddie Mercury through my dad, the icons of music never really leave us. They stay with us and keep us in tune. They are a part of our past, our present and in so many ways, our future.
If there’s one thing that I’m sure of about this life it’s this. We may forget a few songs among the dusty records of the old days, but if there’s a tune that hit the charts sometime, somewhere, it never dies; it just lives on in silence until someone turns up the volume.

  1. >good one sam , being immortal through music totally agree

  2. Taruna says:

    >nicely written sam

  3. rurero says:

    Wen die Götter lieben den rufen sie zeitig zu sich.

    Those whom the gods love, they call early.

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