In Memoriam

"Some are dead and some are living,
In my life I've loved them all..."

The past few weeks marked the passing of a couple of my favorite musicians and people; though I never met either of them, they've proven to be inspirational and interesting to me, in terms of both their virtues and flaws. I've never bought into mythologizing public figures, even the ones I really admire, and anyone who has read my writings on this website or who knows me personally will know that I realize that both of the following men were all too human and were not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, despite all of their talent. However, because these two (and their two other bandmates) have been such an integral part of my life for basically its entire duration, marking both of their deaths each year is indeed important to me.

(Before I continue, please realize that I mean all of this in a relative sense...obviously, I love and cherish my family and friends more than any public figure I've never actually met. Please read the following keeping that context in mind)

November 29 this year marked twelve years since George Harrison passed away from cancer at the age of 58.

I think this is a very sweet picture and quote

George was always the Beatle I and many others understood the least, both because he was intensely private and also because he was a very complex and unique individual. I'm not going to get into the details here as they are not the point of this post. Having read the new biography written about him, I feel that I finally have a much better understanding of who he was and why he was that way. He was the youngest member of the band and yet was probably the most secure in himself, and had been for most of his adult life. I remember being shocked at hearing of his death; I was 21 when he passed away and even though I knew he'd been sick and had read about his prior bout with cancer in the late 1990s, as well as the home invasion attack he survived in 1999, I'd just assumed he would beat the cancer again and be around for many more years. More than that, he was the first Beatle who died when I was old enough to know what was happening, and that made it very sad for me.

These are lyrics from Paul's 1982 song "Here Today," which was his tribute to John
I was only ten months old when John was murdered on December 8; I always like to be able to say that I was alive when all four of the Beatles were. I don't know why but that's comforting to me, even though I had no idea what was going on at that time, being a baby and all! I remember that when I was five years old (circa 1985) and mentioned to a kindergarten classmate of mine that I liked the Beatles, he told me that John had been shot and killed. I still can remember being very upset when I got home from school and telling my mother the awful news, only for her to calmly inform me that it'd actually happened five years before. Ever since then, it's a day I always mark with a little bit of sadness and a lot of happiness. I say this because I always play some of his music on that day and it instantly brightens my mood, just as it does the other 364 days of the year (the same goes for George's music, by the way!). I'll be the first person to tell you that John was far from the saintly figure he's been made out to be by Yoko and the media since he died, but that makes his senseless murder even more tragic. As sad as George's passing was, it was at least somewhat expected given his prior bouts with cancer in the 1990s. John's murder was shocking and no one could have predicted it in their wildest dreams. What makes it ultimately tragic is that he had just turned forty and was finally (seemingly) at peace with his life as a musician, husband, and father. He'd repaired his friendship with Paul years before, had always been friends with Ringo, and though he'd been estranged from George since 1974, there's no doubt they still shared a deep bond and enduring friendship. Furthermore, evidence has surfaced since his death that he was planning to finally get back to England to visit his family (he hadn't been back since 1971), his first tour as a solo artist had already been planned for 1981, and he was seriously considering working with the other Beatles again. Whether that last one would've come to actually pass, the world will never know, but it's the mere promise of it potentially happening that makes the thought so tantalizing and ultimately, so tragic.

Anyway, those are my two little tributes to two musicians and men who have had an influence on my life as much as anyone who I've never personally met possibly can. How about those of you who are reading this? Who among the people you admire but have never met, whether they be musicians, athletes, actors, etc, has influenced your life in a positive way? How have they done so? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

(DISCLAIMER: I did not make the above photos, nor do I know who did...I found them while trawling across the Internet over the past few weeks. As such, I do not claim them for my own nor do I intend to slight whoever did make them by not acknowledging them...I simply don't know who did!)