Offbeat 22 January 2016
My mind is scattered courtesy of the combination of work and rain. Have you ever wondered why people who say they love and miss rain refuse to go out in it, in case they get wet or sick, even if they are people who shower every morning?
Most of my friends from the northern hemisphere begin to gripe about rain after about two or three days of it. They seem to think my preoccupation with rain is a bit morbid, not understanding that I am one of what feels like thousands who post photos of the rain at their offices and houses, and on the streets they drive on.
There are more reasons to be glad for the rain than just the water and the cool, breathable air. It has displaced the deaths of older rock stars on my Facebook page and in my consciousness, at least until now.
David Bowie is the most obvious one, the largest in popular consciousness.
I can’t say that his loss touches me as much as others. There were only a couple of albums that really made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, Ziggy Stardust being the most obvious, with particular credit to Mick Ronson’s guitar on the title track.
I feel a bit cruddy for that given the popular outpouring of grief, but I can temper that with the idea that he was a musician who made and sold music, and I bought it, but did not pin myself on him at all. I also bear in mind that there was scant attention given to the hundreds of thousands who must have died on the same day, just that he was the stand-out.
There are other iconic figures who have shown me my own mortality. In my case the three who spring to mind are Joe Strummer of the Clash, Warren Zevon and Ian Dury. Those are the two who immediately spring to mind. As I sit and think of it consciously, Michael Jackson, Tupac, the RnB singer who drowned in her bathtub, the name of whom I can’t remember, and the two Beatles members, don’t feature as I have to think hard to recall them.
While all this was going on, I saw a post from a younger generation in which a person listed a string of songs from ten years ago, saying that as all the songs were from ten years ago he or she felt old. The statement, almost a claim to venerable old age, felt a bit grandiose, until I remembered how morose I felt about aging when I turned thirty.
One of the things that springs to mind is that the sense of age is somehow linked to cultural experiences. Unfortunately I can’t find a substitute for the aging musicians that seem to surround me. When I go to the pub, where they had Trace or Channel O on the telly, I don’t experience a connection to the bling culture that they portray, and the one-dimensional monotony of the grunted thug lyrics and boring handsigns. No luck there.
It looks like I am stuck with the aging stars, unless I can get the pub to play VH1 more regularly.
Unfortunately VH1 now also adds singers like Beyonce to the mix in the pantheon of what they call classics, a further reminder of the disconnect between what I consider youth, and the age I actually am.
In my mind, Bowie was fixed in the ages between when he sang Ziggy Stardust and China Girl, perpetually youthful. Suddenly he aged and I feel that I have aged alongside him, which reminds me that I am no longer immortal, the way I was when I was 27.
This is actually a moment of anomie, a conflict between what I believe and what I am shown in the deaths of all these people.
In actual fact, I haven’t aged much past 27, spiritually. It’s just the sideburns that I have to cut to get rid of the white bits, and the passing of years which are in reality, not much more than a notional measurement.
Aging may even one day become a thing of the past if medical science is to be believed, though I hope it won’t be a lifestyle thing. Life without hedonism doesn’t seem like a happy option.
On the bright side there is a meme going around which says that one day we will all die, but every other day we will live. I will get by remaining 27 for decades to come, and somehow don’t see slowing down as an option.