Happy 72nd birthday to my favorite Beatle, and one of my favorite people, John Lennon.
So I guess this is the week of epic music video releases…
RedHotChiliPeppers.com and RollingStone.com have debuted the official video for the Chili Pepper’s “Brendan’s Death Song” from their 2011 I’m With You album. This song was written for their long-time friend, Brendan Mullen, who passed away on the first day of production on the recent album. Mullen, a well-known and respected Hollywood nightclub owner, met Anthony and Flea in the early 80’s, giving them one of their very first gigs at his Club Lingerie. He was immediately supportive of the band, and they remained good friends until his death in 2009. He had also been co-authoring a biography on the Chili Peppers when he died. In the interview below, Anthony describes Brendan as, “[having] a love for music and art and life and freaks.”
I actually really love the music video. It’s simple, it’s respectful – while still clinging, somewhat, to the band’s bad ass roots- and, according to what information I know about Mullen, a traditional New Orleans funeral seems fitting. When announcing the video release yesterday on Twitter, Flea even proclaimed it to be his favorite video thus far from the I’m With You era. I concur.
The reason I’m so passionate about music is simple: Music is magic. The music someone loves, grew up with, relates to, awakens the soul in a way that nothing else has the ability to do. As I’ve gotten older, I witnessed my grandparents age – fulfilling beautiful, extraordinary, long lives. I was lucky enough to have all four of them around until I was 13-years-old. This video below struck home for me particularly, since my dad’s mom, Rosalind Baskin, just recently passed away at the end of December. Even though her body had significantly weakened, and was mostly in her bed for the last (and 96th) year of her life, you knew that feisty, self-sufficient, funny, strong, lovely Ros was still in there somewhere. Every once in a while, something would trigger her sense of self, reassuring us, and I’m sure herself, that she was still her – no matter what. Somewhat similarly, my mom’s mom, Rose, lives in a rehabilitation center in Long Island. When we visit her, she looks at us with a certain familiarity, and, at the very least recognizes the fact that we are good people that care about her. But she has, in many ways, lost her sense of self. However, there is still that light deep inside of her that allows the people who know and love her to still see her as the warm, naturally maternal, gardening, knitting, cooking, smiling “Cookie Lady”. The trick, of course, is finding a way to bring that out. Music?
This video is so beautiful to me, because it proves that not only does aging not entirely deplete who you are, but that something that’s seemingly so simple as a song can, even for a moment, bring someone back.
For my Grandmothers. You’re amazing.
When Kurt Cobain was a kid, he could make his entire family and all of his friends laugh until they cried with his Latka impersonation. If you didn’t grow up in the 70’s, then you might not be particularly familiar with the T.V. show, “Taxi”, in which comedian Andy Kaufman played the part of a foreigner with a questionable multiple personality disorder, among other things. It was a goofy, ridiculous character, and Kurt nailed it. Kurt was extremely funny, artistic, creative, outgoing, and always putting on a show – at least for his first ten years, which he and others have described as the happiest time of his life.
Reportedly, before Kurt ended his own life on April 5, 1994, he listened to one last song- R.E.M.’s “Man on the Moon“. If you were around in the 90’s, then you definitely know this song. After they recovered his body a couple days later, his wife, Courtney Love (who later played Lynne Margulies – Andy Kaufman’s girlfriend in the movie “Man on the Moon”, staring Jim Carrey) found the disc, Automatic for the People, still in the CD player.
This poetic symmetry is one of many poetic things Kurt Cobain left with the world. He was a brilliant lyricist. In fact, in any pole or list I’ve ever seen regarding the top lyricists in music history, Kurt almost always falls somewhere within the top 20. He was also a very gifted artist, even from a very early age. There is a Cobain family story about when Kurt was six years old, and he drew a picture of Donald Duck for his grandfather. Leland Cobain couldn’t believe that this picture was not traced, due to it’s accuracy and near perfection. Kurt sat down and drew a picture of Goofy right in front of his grandfather. It was a defining moment in everyone else’s recognition that this boy was not just your average kid.
His parents’ nasty divorce and the baggage that came with it ultimately lead Kurt into a downward spiral. Since there was a significant history of depression within his family, this sense of loss and confusion hit Kurt harder than most. Growing up in Aberdeen, Washington, a somewhat “down-on-its-luck” timber mill town, there wasn’t a ton to do. Even after discovering some of his artistic and musical talents, Kurt got caught up in the party, drug and alcohol scene. But most significantly, he refused to conform.
In a weird way, his numerous experiences as a teenager rebelling against the norm ultimately transformed him into the voice of an entire generation. When Nirvana was formed, grunge was born. He didn’t know it then, but the music he created and left behind changed everything people knew about rock’n’roll. Is Nirvana’s music sad? Angry? Sarcastic? Funny? Truthful? All of the above. It was the early nineties. Teenagers were wearing Converse sneakers, ripped jeans, vintage concert t-shirts and old-man cardigans. He was an icon, a star, a legend.
I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt says it best in this video (see 1:55 mark):
So today, Kurt, I dedicate my blog to you. I am so sad that you’re not around to see your influence on music, but I thank you for what you left behind.