The Immortals aren’t immortal, after all. We always knew that, I think. Now we have to face it.
Since I was a kid, I LOVED Michael Jackson. I discovered him at about 6 or 7 years old when I found a cassette copy, no case, of Thriller in the dusty old playground behind the Tillsonburg apartment building my mom and I lived in.
I can still picture the black plastic cartridge and it’s fading gold lettering. The Epic Records logo is so clear in my minds eye, I could draw it from memory. If I could draw.
I spun those plastic wheels into dust. I made recordings where I was the DJ AND the artist, dropping MJ hit after hit. (These recordings still exist, much to my horror.)
My mom even rented the Thriller video (on VHS), for my birthday. It included a detailed “making of…” segment that may very well be responsible for my current station in life as a filmmaker.
Soon, I discovered MJ’s prior release, Off the Wall, while flipping through my dad’s record collection during one of my weekend visits to Port Colborne.
I dug into The Jackson Five to fill my need for more MJ. Soon Bad came out. I was in heaven. These were glorious days!
Between my mom and dad, they of varying musical tastes, I was exposed to and in love with a WHOLE LOT of different music. Led Zeppelin, Electric Light Orchestra, Heart, Queen, Meatloaf, Whitesnake, James Taylor and the reason I felt compelled to write this morning, Prince.
My folks were separated when I was very young and so I shared my time between them (my mom being the predominant caregiver, but never trash-talking my dad) in two very different towns. They had significantly variant perspectives on “age-appropriate” art and media.
Prince’s monster hit “Purple Rain” resonated with me and my dad bought me the tape, probably on one of our quick trips to Buffalo to get cheap music. Yeah, things were different back then.
Somehow this led to the rental of the Purple Rain movie, back home in Tillsonburg. The film turned out to be wildly non-child-friendly, and almost definitely led to my mom taking a closer listen to the cassette. I’d have to assume Darling Nikki was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the album was taken away.
Time heals some wounds though, and eventually Prince returned to my collection, in force. And there he resided, prominently, alongside the likes of Warrant, Bowie, Motley Crue, The Thompson Twins, Alice Cooper and of course, Michael Jackson.
Well, it’s 2016 and the Immortals are disappearing. MJ, Bowie, Jani Lane, Cash, Cobain, Dimebag, Layne Staley, David Bowie and now, Prince. Apparently the Titans all fall, eventually.
I guess it’s something my parents already knew. They lost Elvis, Lennon, Carpenter, Hendrix, Mercury and numerous others. The thing they also knew, that I’m just starting to really get, is that there’s a kind of immortality that comes with making your artistic mark on the world.
Those people are gone, but they left behind a kind of magic. A sonic or visual spell that can transport us to times and places and feelings from other parts of our lives. A word or idea that can build a hinge into your mind on which the door of possibility may swing.
The Immortals, it turns out, are awfully mortal after all. They always were. The thing that made them seem to stand beyond the grasp of frail humanity was a gift from the realm of the immortal, from outside of tender creation, that allowed them to reach directly into our hearts and minds when and where we most needed them.
The festivals in the hereafter are going to be downright epic.