Ongoing, inevitable, unstoppable. It’s an unchangeable part of the process that we’re currently processing. It’s the punctuation mark at the end of all life sentences. It’s the last breath, the last word, the last gasp. It’s the subject of an uncountable number of songs. It don’t have no mercy, but, at least, it doesn’t play favorites.
It happens. Why it has to happen to the ones I love, the people I admire, and the artists I cherish, is something beyond understanding. It is what it is. All of my heroes, teachers, pals, the singers and players who have inspired, consoled, and entertained me – they all have to go. No matter who or how great they were, they all have to go. Just to name some of the recent ones – Phil Everly, Marian McPartland, Paco De Lucia, Pete Seeger. It’s a list that is endless and one that keeps growing. These guys have been here, said and did whatever it is they said and did, and, before I know it, they’re gone. Their voices silenced. Their instruments passed along or set aside. Here one day, doing it, and then, gone forever.
It gives me pause, but only momentarily. There’s much to do. I understand now that this is the way it is, this is what happens. You’re here, you have the opportunity for music, in whatever form, and, then, it’s over. This just reinforces what Frank Zappa said, long before he was nearing his end – “You should be digging it, while it’s happening.” I know I’ve talked about that pearl of wisdom before, but it’s something I remind myself of all the time.
All these recorded tunes, here and everywhere, and the players inside them, are still saying something and will continue to say it forever. They’ve all pulled something out of their own hats and, even after death, continue to inspire everyone lucky enough to hear them. By offering up their souls to everyone, they are inviting a reciprocal gift. They are explorers, clearing the way for all who come after them.
It’s life, even though there’s death. It’s not what happened or what’s going to happen that matters, but what is going on right now. The past moments of so many incredible individual musicians and groups of musicians have become my present. I hear their voices. I know their songs. As Jimmy Martin once said at the end of a show, “As long as you live, I’ll never die. “