There has been a lot of death in the news recently.
A friend shared what Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins wrote when he found out about the death of Scott Weiland, the troubled singer best known for fronting Stone Temple Pilots. He says it better than me. In part:
… I will not pretend to know more than I know, or add some sad homily to how he loved his life. At least in that, may I now say he is undoubtably in the arms of grace and eternal love. May I also offer my humble condolences to his family, friends, and band mates; who have, and are, suffering this great loss.
When the Big Hair Metal Bands went out of vogue in the early ’90s, I could not wrap my head around the grunge thing. At 23, I still wanted more Def Leppard, but alas, my time had passed.
I could not quite get into Nirvana. Pearl Jam was okay. But Stone Temple Pilots resonated with me. Plush is easily one of my favorite songs of that decade. I still remember December ’93, singing it while riding a in car in Upstate South Carolina with two of my best friends, Corey and Mark.
“AND I FEEEEEEEL IT…… AND SHE FEEEEEEELS IT…”
Thanks, Scott… for the music.
This reminds me of the fluidity of time and the stresses of success. Not just having to battle internal demons, but having to do it in the public eye, when someone always wants to write something about you. Sometimes positive, but often negative. Things that are written that would never be said in a conversation with that person around a lunch table. Some handle it better than others.
I think about Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, Winehouse. I am guilty of internally mocking their inner demons in the past. But that self-righteous voice in me is not as loud anymore.
I remember being 16 years old, and beginning to notice that creative minds all seemed a little weird. And a few weeks later, our 11th grade English class was given an article to read from our teacher, Joey Boehling: How Inner Torment Feeds The Creative Spirit.
It was a bit over my head at the time, but upon re-reading it recently, one passage was striking:
There may be just as many self-destructive bakers as painters, but psychiatrists and biographers do not analyze their cakes. It is the tormented artist and not the untroubled one – the Vincent van Gogh, not the Peter Paul Rubens – who provides the stuff of tabloid notoriety and romantic embellishment.
That was written in 1985.
I have to think social media makes this worse. No margin of error. Long diatribes between “friends” about the emotional issues of the day: guns, marriage, ethnicity, religion, economics. And for a subset of us, climate change.
I see people post, “What’s wrong with people?”
The same thing that has always been wrong with people. We just see it more. We are letting our emotions override our logic.
We didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since the world’s been turning.
Billy Joel has had his share of ups and downs too.
And this one, penned by Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist of Rush. From the 1987 song, Lock and Key (come on, you didn’t think you were going to make it through this blog without a Rush reference did you?):
We carry a sensitive cargo
Below the waterline
Ticking like a time bomb
With a primitive design
Behind the finer feelings
This civilized veneer
The heart of a lonely hunter
Guards a dangerous frontier
The balance can sometimes fail
Strong emotions can tip the scale
This is the way of the world. I take issue with those who would like to spin it as the end times.
I have the same emotional reactions to things I see online as well. Things that I see our elected officials do. Memes that people post without actually researching them first, as if to shout, “Yeah… me too… if you don’t agree with me… you’re stupid.”
I’ve done it. I try not to. But I slip. I’m human.
It is important to remember that most of us are going through something. I’m sure there are some of us who are sailing through life without a care in the world. I’m happy for them. I try to be positive on line, but I will have moments as well. Don’t think that picking up your life and career after 20 years and moving it 350 miles away comes without some emotional consequences (by the way… massive props to my military friends who have done this on a routine basis).
I have friends who have lost to their demons. Alcoholism, depression, even prison. Others have been taken from the earth too soon, either by disease or horrifying accident.
Which returns me to Corgan and the opening words of my favorite Pumpkins’ song, Bullet With Butterfly Wings:
The world is a vampire.
Still… I make every effort to consider the 7 billion people on this planet, and I realize that I am fortunate. Some would say blessed. I have electricity and running water. I have a roof over my head. I do not worry where my next meal will come from. I have good scientific training, so I’m not bothered by superstitions or conspiracy theories. I have a good job.
It could be worse.
It could always be worse.