The deaths of Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse were two traumatic events in my life. What’s interesting however, is that I’ve never met them, let alone have even a superficial conversation with them. Yet, there’s something about the artist-fan relationship that makes us feel so connected to practical strangers that we shed a tear when they go on. I suspect that it has something to do with the new personal experience of music (thanks to mp3 players and compact speaker systems) and the ability to correspond music with maturity.
Being able to make statements such as, “I like old Common better than his new stuff,” definitely means something. Judging Common in this fashion, reflects the phenomenon of thinking of artists, or understanding them, in terms of a personality you know well. The statements are made possible by feeling a certain impact from the productions of artists. When I say, “old Common starts at Resurrection up through Be,” I’m telling you what happened between me and Common; as if our relationship was real for both parties.
My experience of “old Common” includes associating the concepts of Resurrection to Be with my own gradual growth in maturity. For instance, I recognize in Resurrection a Common that’s still young but is becoming aware the revolutionary power of music. Then I say that his rowdy personality grows into the more subtle and believer-in-love, as liberation, personality of Be. In my ability to make sense of Common’s path, there is evidence that my diggin’ him relates to our simultaneous growth. Simply because I understood the concept and philosophy of every album, of every moment in Common’s career, they in turn marked periods of my maturity.
So then I guess that our tears for complete strangers really manifest the role of artists as companions in our lives. Art raises us, if it doesn’t merely help us to define the personal changes we experience. This means that long time exposure to an artist influences the way we think about the different meaningful elements of the social world. When an artist dies we lose one source of guidance, which is depressing. Our mourning reveals our dependence and our fear of facing the dark nothingness—the world—alone.
It’s been another episode of writing in the comfort of my thoughts. You know how it goes; when I enjoy a little more hard thinking thanks to a friend of mine, I show respect to an important theorist. Shout out to Foucault, I thought about Madness and Civilization toward the end of this. His concept about madness being the scapegoat of death is dope.