Saturday, February 6, 2016

Open Letters to Our Idols

Scott D. Parker

Maurice White of Earth Wind & Fire died this week. I was a latecomer to the music of EWF, having only really paid attention back in 2004 when they toured with Chicago. I saw them again last year when the two bands toured again. I spent all morning yesterday listening to EWF music. Is there a riff that can embed itself in your head quite effectively as “Let’s Groove”?

Thing is, early 2016 has not been kind to our idols. David Bowie. Glenn Frey. Alan Rickman. Lemmy Kilmister. Maurice White. All gone. Bowie hit me pretty hard. I’ve written about it elsewhere. I’m not alone in sadness.

But here’s the thing: Bowie never got to see the impact his death had on us. You can pretty much assume he knew what his life meant to us in all the folks who name him as an inspiration. One look at Lady Gaga’s career and you can see Bowie’s influence in many things she does.

Lady Gaga and all the other folks are famous. They are easily seen. Everyone else isn’t. Folks like you and me. Regular folks who latched onto a song, an album, a book, a film, a painting, whatever and had their lives altered by the thing. I think it would be nice for these people—famous and not famous—to know what they did for each of us.

It’s why I’ve decided to start an occasional blog series: Open Letters to Our Idols. On an irregular basis, I’ll write a post about an artist/person who helped shape who I am. Then I’ll make the person aware of the post via Twitter, etc. If they choose to read it, fine. They don’t have to. But they’ll have the opportunity to know what they meant to me.

My Bowie post probably started this thought process. It just kept churning in my head all through January and up until this week when Maurice White’s death brought it forward.

It’s the equivalent of the “hug your spouse and child” and “call your parents” kind of meme. This isn’t ‘my thing.’ It’s for everyone. I’m just putting it out there.

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