When those that made you are dead and gone.
Sound off the names: Leonard Cohen, Glenn Fry, Prince, Lou Reed, David Bowie…David Bowie for goodness sake!..and now Tom Petty.
There are other names I have missed and I have touched on this subject before. It is just, with the passing of Tom Petty of Heartbreakers fame, I am once again struck by a few things. The fallibility of your idols, the way I am clearly getting old, how people can have such an effect on you without you necessarily being aware of it and how powerful that effect could and can be.
For me, it is musicians in particular. A song, a tune, a melody, even a lyric, can transport you back to a time and place, just like that. The work of a musician can reach you, touch you, get inside you and take a hold. When that happens you are marked. That musician, that artist, has left his or her imprint. And you aren’t even aware it has happened.
Think about it. What song was on when you had your first kiss? The proper one, not the peck you got playing catch and kiss in the playground.
When you were handed the keys to the car, for your first solo drive, what tape did you slide in, to blast out, speakers up and windows down? High School dances and that first big hall party or the bonfire, what tinny sound system or thumping P.A channeled the tunes of that day? Beat boxes on the shoulder to that first MTV music video, the first vinyl 45, EP to LP to CD.
The tracks that get you hopping and bopping and jumping and throwing your hands in the air and waving lighters (sorry, cell phones) and the songs that you scream for if you are lucky enough to see that artist perform them live.
The songs that bring a tear to your eye, or an outright sob. I mean, who hasn’t thought of the track that will lead your coffin out of the service? (Simply Red’s If You Don’t Know Me By Now for me thanks).
Of course it isn’t about music for everyone. Maybe it is something political, a world leader, who inspired/inspires you. A JFK or a Che Guevara or Martin Luther King. Think of all the philosophers who have blessed us with their thoughts, the great thinkers of our time and times gone. The poets and the painters and the sculptors and the writers. Perhaps it is nature which inspires; a landscape, the eruption of a volcano, a glance to the stars and planets and galaxies above. Maybe your cultural heritage and history, maybe crafts, or architecture or something botanical.
Many get hooked on sporting idols. I won’t get into the debate around if a man or woman can kick, pass and catch makes them a role model or otherwise, because either way, kids inspire to be like them. David Beckham, Mohamed Ali, Jonah Lomu, Jesse Owens, the Williams sisters, Lydia Ko. You could do worse than pinning some hopes and dreams on emulating a crew like that.
When these idols and legends pass, the rock stars and the superstars and the greats and the awe inspiring, don’t despair. Reflect, cry, bemoan the unfairness of the world it you have to, but be comforted in the knowledge the works of these idols, the people who inspired you, lives on as long as you allow it to.
The potential to inspire is endless and it is personal. I guess the point is to be inspired. Find those around you doing it, whatever it is, their way. Then find your way to do it a bit like them, if that is what works for you.
And while your at it, crank out the tunes.