by Barry Mase –
With the passing of Tom Petty yesterday – another one of our Rock G-ds – and the imminent arrival of Succus where we read Koheles, I felt that the article below which I wrote last year was appropriate.
I never really was such a fan of Bowie growing up in the 70’s. I mean, he was on the radio all the time and, of course, any self-respecting teenage kid couldn’t help but know his hit songs, Starman, Changes, Rebel Rebel, Heroes, Space Oddity, etc.
But I wasn’t a real fan. Real fans know the “b” songs on the albums, the lesser known, more hidden tracks on a record. I didn’t follow David Bowie that way. I did, however, see him in concert at The Garden in 76’ and I loved it. It was Bowie’s Thin White Duke Tour.
The truth is I loved all the concerts I went to when I was a teenager. There was something incredibly exciting and powerful, about going to a concert as a 14-18-year-old. I saw Elton John (the night after John Lennon jumped on stage), Jethro Tull at Shea Stadium, Paul McCartney (alas, without the Beatles -sob) Aerosmith (M80’s – loud, loud firecrackers- were being thrown from the bleachers scaring the daylights out of me), The legendary Moody Blues, Chicago, Yes, The Beach Boys and many others I can’t seem to remember at this moment. It’s all a whirlwind of exhilarating memory. I do remember trying to scalp tickets to see The Who at the Garden and feeling a palpable tidal wave of adrenaline and yes, testosterone, about to knock me over as I walked outside Madison Square looking for those precious tickets. So much energy. So much enflamed teenage passion. And it was the same with The Stones. I’m almost afraid to admit it now, but looking back, it was actually scary to be one of the “crazed and avid” joining tens of thousands of other kids like me, searching for those unreachable sold-out ducats. No place for a sensitive kid I guess. I wanted to be there and at the same time, I was frightened by the scene. It was that strong. It was that tangible. It felt so powerful.
Yes, these Rock guys were our heroes. They were beyond cool. They were beyond even our sports idols…even beyond Willis and Clyde and Seaver. And believe me, that says something too. Every kid that I knew seemed to have that Led Zeppelin poster of Jimmy Page with the red double neck guitar and Robert Plant with his shirt open displaying some sort of other worldly image of Coolness. I keep going back to cool because that’s the word. Cool. That word, Cool, has followed me all these years, now into my 5th decade on this earth. It’s important to be cool. It’s important to somehow stay cool…. even now as I’ve become a grandfather. Why? I’m not sure. But it’s definitely still inside me. Why?
Our rock gods, these were the coolest people in the world. I remember thinking to myself as a teenager, how is it going to happen that at some point, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant will one day not be what they are now? How will this change? There’s no way these guys will ever not be…well, I guess you know what I’m going to say…cool!
David Bowie passed away recently and for that matter, so did Glen Frey. Another one of our idols from the day. The Eagles. Big band. One of the biggest. I think they even have one of the top 5 selling albums of all time. To tell you the truth, I also wasn’t such a fan of the Eagles, but it’s hard not to know their music too, unless of course, you disappeared off this little blue planet these past 40 years. Big band. Lots of adoring fans. Lots of scalpers, no doubt.
When I heard the news about Bowie, it shook me up a bit. It kind of came out of left field. Again, I’ve never been a big fan but he’s one of our “boys” from the day. You know what I mean when I say “boys” I’m sure. He’s one of those guys we thought could never change, never get older. And then you see, they can and they do. That’s the case with all of them and of course, for all of us. You watch those “idols” of ours and let’s face it, it’s all a bit sobering. We’re all ch-ch-changing.
Okay, I certainly don’t want to be morose and definitely don’t want to depress anyone. But any thinking person, certainly has to see what’s happening. We’re here for a pretty short time and then…
My favorite book, since becoming a religious Jew over 25 years ago, has always been Koheles (Ecclesiastes) and in the morning prayers each day, we draw on the wisdom of King Shlomo. I’m paraphrasing a bit but here goes:
Master of all worlds! What are we? What is our life? What is our kindness? What is our righteousness? What is our salvation? What is our strength? What is our might? What can we say before you, Hashem, our G-d, and the G-d of our forefathers –
…. are not all the heroes like nothing before You, the famous as if they had never existed, the wise as if devoid of wisdom and the perceptive as if devoid of intelligence. For most of their deeds are desolate and the days of their lives are empty before you. The preeminence of man over beast is non-existent for all is vain.
But we are Your members of Your covenant, children of Abraham, your beloved, to who you took an oath at Mount Moriah….
We are fortunate – how good is our portion, how pleasant our lot and how beautiful our heritage!
I don’t know about you, but it works for me. I’m glad to be a Jew and that my friends is what I now consider, Cool!