When someone dies, we tell a lot of stories.
We tell stories about our encounters with the dead person, the jokes they told, the way they saw the world. These stories help us hold on to our memories and keep the person alive.
We also tell stories about what they would have wanted for us. One story I tell is how my father would want me to feel, and I started telling that story when he was still alive and I was crying in another room and trying to stop myself and talk to him because I didn’t believe he would really want me to be sad about something so stupid I can’t even remember it now.
He’s right; I shouldn’t be sad about that.
Yesterday, I decided my friend Mark Chambers, who died on April 20th, wanted to help choose music for me to listen to. I reached for the CDs with my eyes closed, and the first disc I picked out was “The Glory of Gershwin,” released in 1994 as “a tribute to the great living legend Larry Adler in celebration of his 50th birthday.” Peter Gabriel sings “Summertime,” Lisa Stansfield sings “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” Oleta Adams sings “Embraceable You.”
Good choice, Mark. Gershwin endures.
Then for the car, he picked out two David Bowie albums: “Diamond Dogs” and “Young Americans.” The beauty of Bowie, as Mark obviously knows, is that you can love his body of work and hate some of his albums. You can even love some of the songs on an album and find the others unlistenable. Which is how I feel about “Young Americans.” I like the title song, and I like “Fame” (sort of, mostly because of familiarity), and I like “Across the Universe,” though mostly I object to Beatles covers.
But the rest of the overproduced, soft-jazz saxophone tunes bore the crap out of me. Sorry, Mark.
As I was driving along, skipping songs, I realized that Mark’s legacy within me, the story I told myself, could be something very different and possibly more important than disk jockeying. I decided Mark would love it if I started living a life without fear, anxiety, or worry. Mark would really want me to live with curiosity about what is happening now and what will happen next.
Also, he wants me to let go of the rules once in a while, so I’ve been drinking a lot of beer and smoking a fair amount of pot for the past couple days.
It’s what Mark would have wanted.