6/25/09: Two Legends Gone

When Kurt Cobain died, I was in Alice Springs, Australia. I was sitting outdoors at a cafe, and I remember someone saying, “Kurt Cobain killed himself!”…When Diana died, I was in the middle of a shift at The Wild River Brewery in Grants Pass, Oregon. The bossy waitress with the long blonde hair told us. I don’t remember her name…The day Johnny Cash died, I was driving to work and heard it on the radio. I immediately called my boyfriend at the time, the biggest Cash fan I’ve ever known. He had just heard also, and was in tears. During our years together, I heard him cry only four times. That was the first.

I was never much of a Nirvana fan, but Kurt’s death was a huge deal for our generation. Princess Diana had been a symbol of my childhood. Her wedding to Prince Charles was one of the biggest events of my young life. And Johnny Cash…well, what can I say? He was the Man in Black. A country music legend who was loved by everyone. I didn’t grieve for him the way my ex did, the way many people did that day. I was saddened, but at the same time I was happy that he was finally going to be with his beloved June, whom he’d lost just a few months earlier. Johnny without June just didn’t feel right – so he made it right. 

And now, Michael Jackson. Yes, I’m a Gen-Xer who grew up listening to his music (I owned Thriller on 8-track), and teaching myself to moonwalk (which I can do VERY well, btw). I bought the teen mags with his posters, because let’s face it – early 80’s Michael was HOT. I had a crush on him. My friend Bernadette had a crush on him. My cousin Erica had a crush on him. And I think if he would’ve just kept the nose he had in the Say, Say, Say video (and the hair and the skin tone), he might have even been hot until the day he died.

Which, sadly, is today.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t listen to his music much after high school. But when I was a teenager, he was there. Constantly. He ruled Casey Kasem’s American Top 40. I remember when Billie Jean was in the number one spot week, after week, after week. It was my favorite song at the time, and I cheered when Casey played it…Then there were the videos. No one danced in their videos like Michael did. Beat It, Billie Jean, Bad, Smooth Criminal – they hearken back to a day when MTV was good. And of course, Thriller. The indisputable iconic video of the 80’s (but I have to say, A-ha’s Take on Me is a close second). The first time I watched it, I just sat there, open-mouthed. IT. WAS. AWESOME. The most awesome video I’d ever seen. In fact, it probably still is, since I stopped watching videos about 20 years ago.

Yes, I mourned today for what felt like the death of my childhood. But what truly saddens me is how alone Michael seems to have been. He never found someone to share his life with. A partner. His June Carter Cash. His Ryan O’Neal*. He had his children, his fame and his legacy, but he seemed lonely. I know lonely, a lot of us do. It hurts. I can’t imagine dealing with intense loneliness yet being in the public eye every second of your life. I’m disappointed that I didn’t have more compassion for him while he was here.

I hope he’s remembered well.

(August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)

*Also, R.I.P. Farrah Fawcett, whose passing today was quickly overshadowed by the news of Michael. An icon in her own right, I will strive for the rest of my life to have hair as fabulous as hers. Also, she RULED in Extremities. My thoughts to her family, friends and fans.

(February 2, 1947 – June 25, 2009)

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 9:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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