The year is only 19 days old, and we have already lost David Bowie (musical legend), Alan Rickman (Die Hard, Harry Potter), Dan Haggerty (Grizzily Adams), David Margulies (Ghostbusters), Jason Wingreen (Voice of Boba Fett), Pat Harrington Jr.(One Day at a Time), Michael Galeota (Disney star), Rene Angelil (Celine Dion’s husband), and now Glenn Frey (The Eagles). As incongruous as so many deaths this early in the year seems to be, this list no doubt will have names added to it as the year moves on; it has already been a difficult one for us to process so many losses happening so quickly.
Having discussed these losses with friends and family, each loss seems to have a particular resonance with at least one of us. I grew up watching Harrington play Schneider on One Day at a Time, so there is that connection to my youth. I also had been a fan of Bowie and The Eagles as a teenager, and their songs remind me of places and people, some of whom are no longer with us. As for Alan Rickman, I became a big fan as a young man when I saw Die Hard, and in later years a fan all over again watching the Harry Potter films with my kids.
Turning a page is always difficult in life, but having to flip through so many so quickly has created a sort of malaise that seems like a fog descending upon me. Certainly you can feel devastated by the loss of one person whom you admired and followed, and it usually takes time to get over that. With so many losses almost at once there is no luxury of time. It’s sort of like a daily dose of a nightmarish reality show called Who Did We Lose Today?
I felt particularly sad when I heard the news about Bowie. His diverse music and intriguing style notwithstanding, I really enjoyed watching him as an actor. His films have a surreal quality to them, especially The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Hunger. I also will never forget watching him as a kid when he sang “Peace on Earth” with Bing Crosby; that indelible performance has always stayed with me.
Frey’s death was not as shocking or surprising as Bowie’s; I knew that he had not been well because The Eagles had to cancel a performance at the Kennedy Center Honors in December due to Frey’s health problems. Still, I had heard nothing since and I hoped that he had been on the mend.
Frey and The Eagles had been a big part of my teenage years, with many of their songs being anthems for this rock and roll loving youth; I would pop their tapes into my car stereo and drive around listening to them. Their songs like “Already Gone” of “Take It Easy” could jazz me up, while “Tequila Sunrise” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” could calm me down. Of course, their most iconic song, “Hotel California,” took me out in that desert and left me thinking I heard that mission bell. Their music has stayed with me all these years, and turning the page for Frey has been the hardest of all this cruel January.
Perhaps losing these people with whom we first connected to in our youth shakes us more deeply. We recall those long days and nights of freedom before the reality of college, careers, and families changed our playing fields. Even all these years later when I would be driving the kids to school or soccer and one of The Eagles’ songs came on the radio, I would be taken back to my carefree days and get a smile on my face.
Now, listening to Q104.3 FM here in New York, they have been honoring Frey all day long. As I hear the songs playing, the nostalgia is there but listening to them is like looking at photos of lost relatives and getting upset. There is no going back now; I have always known this, but Frey’s death only irrevocably confirms that.
I don’t know what it all means in the big picture, but I know others like myself who feel shaken by so many losses happening so quickly. There is sadness and the sense of realization regarding our own mortality as we experience each person leaving us, but we can find some solace in the legacy each leaves behind, a trail to connect with them again and again even if it doesn’t feel the same knowing that they are gone.
I am hoping this is it for a while in terms of losing people that have had an impact on our lives. For now I will mourn the loss of Glenn Frey and all the others we have lost in this cruel month of January 2016. Rest in Peace, Glenn Frey.
Photo credits: abcnews, cnn, foxnews