Tuesday, 19 January 2016

On Discovering a Pop Star You Weren't That Fond of Has Died

There's been a little cluster of pop deaths since the turn of the year. And although some are suggesting foul play, I am going for statistics. I suppose it is a result of the great explosion of pop music in the 70s. A lot of people who were pop musicians then are now entering the kind of ages where they are at increased risk of death - and let's face it, they weren't always that careful with their health at the time. So we can expect a lot more ageing pop stars to be heading off to join the Rhythm Section Celestial over the next 20 years. It's a demographic time bomb.

Whenever a pop star dies, there's an outpouring of grief from people who like them - even people who have never bought a track they've made, and only discover how much they like them when they die 30 years after their last hit. It can all get a bit maudlin. And then there's the backlash, as people point out that the deceased muso was in fact somebody with a past, or wasn't all that good, or the vocals were actually overdubbed by session musicians.

So what do you do if you discover that a pop star you weren't all that fond of has died? What can you say on Social Media? When everyone is demanding an instant response - how can you distil 5,000 words into a balanced view of the departed that doesn't lapse into idolatry or iconoclasm?

Don't bother, is my suggestion. Reflect that all flesh - even flesh with a gold record - is as grass. Commend their soul to the Lord, if that's what you do. And then pass on your way, feeling just very slightly sad. The world is full enough of tributes and debunking. Let it pass.

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