In the last few days, a trio of musicians have passed away. They say these things happen in threes, and there you go. Jimmy Buffett, Steve Harwell from Smash Mouth and Gary Wright all passed away within a couple of days of each other. Each is a part of our soundtrack in their own way, and certain songs remind us of special moments in our lives when it was playing. Memories are funny things, and songs, like scents, bring the past back in waves.
Well, I think it’s time to get ready
To realize just what I have found
I have lived only half of what I am
It’s all clear to me now
My heart is on fire
— Gary Wright, Love Is Alive
There always seemed to be a Gary Wright song playing for awhile there. Especially Dream Weaver but Love is Alive wasn’t far behind. Together they’re an integral part of the life of anyone who listened to popular music in the 70’s. Gary was a musician on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass album, which seems appropriate to bring up at the moment. We keep seeing examples of it, and our lesson is clear: Memento mori, friend. Carpe diem…
So much to do, so much to see
So what’s wrong with taking the back streets?
You’ll never know if you don’t go
You’ll never shine if you don’t glow
Hey now, you’re an all star
Get your game on, go play
Hey now, you’re a rock star
Get the show on, get paid
And all that glitters is gold
Only shooting stars break the mold
— Smash Mouth, All Star
Smash Mouth was a shooting star at a time when the entire music industry was swirling with exciting new music. I’ve often thought I’d use these lyrics one day, I just didn’t anticipate it would be at the death of their lead singer. The thing about shooting stars is that they burn out quickly. Harwell’s lifestyle apparently led to his early demise at 56. I know someone trying to kill themselves with alcohol and had a cousin who did. Alcohol can be a demon that grabs ahold of its victim and drags them down to depths unexpected when they start dancing with it. I feel for his family and friends.
Most mysterious calling harbor
So far but yet so near
I can see the day when my hair’s full gray
And I finally disappear
— Jimmy Buffett, One Particular Harbor
Jimmy Buffett had twenty years on Harwell, but it still felt like he passed way too soon. His impact on my own soundtrack is obvious, as I’ve inserted him into three blog posts in the three days since I heard that he’d passed away. Each of these musicians filled some part of our lives, and by extension the lives of those who live on the periphery and catch the tune as they’re making their own memories. Music and memories are viral in that way. The music lives on, as we all say, but the world feels a bit emptier today than it did just a few days ago. Each of them filled the world with song. Doesn’t it fall on us to pick up where they left off?