Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Sometimes Dreams Need to Stay Dreams

I have some sort of virus or stomach flu. Yeah, me sick again, must be a day that ends with 'day'.

As a result of the fever and throwing up I slept all too poorly last night, struggled to update NLQ and could not do much that didn't involve bolting down Alka Seltzer.

Last night as I tossed and turned I pondered all the deaths of people I either knew personally or of whom I admired at some point in 2016. 2016 just sucked so hard! So many people I didn't want to see go passed on. I kept returning to thinking about the slow motion tragedy one of those deaths was. I'm changing the name of the dead and his fellow band mates because he has a small hardcore cadre of insane fans I have no wish to piss off, he's a z-lister and his last few years are a perfect illustration about why you let go of those pie in the sky dreams from your teenage years. You don't resurrect them in your fifties and trash your life trying to make them happen.

 You let them go.

One of the things about life is that it's constant change. If you're not changing or moving forward you're stagnant and dying. Everyone goes through phases in their lives. I once wanted to be a rock star, and by the time I reached my twenties I'd stopped with all the singing and bands, realizing I had to put on my big girl pants, grow up and get an education. There have been other important shifts I've had to make in my life, from single gal and college student to military wife living overseas, to mom, to empty nester. From heckling agnostic, to full on kool aid drinker, back to partially agnostic. It's normal to have to set aside some things, and sometimes pick them up at a later date.

During my fundy years I loved to bake from scratch, cook, sew and do those domestic things impressed upon us that righteous women did. After leaving I went through a l-o-n-g period of time when I wanted to eat out, or nuke things. But, eventually after my former faith community was far enough back in my rear view mirror, I found myself enjoying cooking once again. I just do not feel any more 'must dos' about it that I once did. I no longer feel guilty if I decide to open a can of soup instead of cooking.

There are also lots of things I've done in the past that I know the time has passed  for, that I don't do any longer. Example - I no longer do any stained glass projects even if I love them because soldering the lead is hard on my lungs. I used to run several miles a day in my 20s but gave that up when it started impacting my knees. Sometimes the time has passed, even for things you love.

So what does it look like when you don't let go of things from the past, or you try to take them up again when the time to do those things has long passed. It looks like Michael.

I first heard of Michael and the bubblegum pop band he sang lead for when I was about 12 or 13 and was starting to lose my love for the Osmond Brothers. Michael and pals had a band with horns and lots of singers, hitting the top forty with a ridiculous (in retrospect) song with an anti war message. I knew all about Michael and his band from the pages of Tiger Beat and 16 magazines. Bought the albums, called up WLCS and other local south Louisiana AM radio stations requesting their music.

 Michael's band is what you'd call a one hit wonder. One hit song, a few middling songs and a single album before they sank into obscurity. By the time I was 15 and had moved on to bands like Mott the Hoople and Queen their band had disbanded.

Through the years I always wondered what happened to these guys. Did they go crawling back to the midwest and parts of Ohio? Join other bands? It was a mystery, at least until the late 1990s.

I met one of the guys from the band the summer I attended a worship ministry class in Pensacola, Florida, through the Brownsville Revival happening. I freely admit it. I was a revival and conference junkie in those days. There was no happening involving charismatic movements that I did not attend and wholly embrace even if many at the old church called the revival movements emotional sin.

Danny, the former horn, keyboards and bass player from the teenybopper band, taught worship team classes out of the school connected to Brownsville. My pastor pressed me to attend some of the worship team classes at Brownsville. I didn't realize who he was at first, but eventually it added up, his unusual last name and my long ago lust for certain of his bandmates. I got to know him very slightly that summer, happy to see him serving so diligently in the kingdom of God. At least before the nasty splits occurred at Brownsville, and some church hopping going on, almost mirroring the exact same bullshit happening at Possum Creek where I was on worship team.

Through keeping in touch with Danny, the internet and social media I was able to see what had happened to my favorite one hit wonder band. Fate, and time, had scattered them to the four winds. One joined the Moonies, another had a swing band, the guy who was the band leader still performed music when he wasn't running his security business, another had done well in a big midwestern industry, a couple were studio musicians in Nashville and Michael was a middle aged middle management in big business out west. Danny was church/worship team leading hopping through the charismatic revival mega churches

About four years ago Bob, the old band leader, played a gig that Michael attended and invited Michael to take the microphone for a few songs. I've seen the video of this event on Youtube. In the video you see a balding, gray, paunchy older looking gentleman uncertainly picking his way through that ancient song.

What followed his return to the stage is he quit his stable middle management job, got a hair transplant, face lift, dye job and lost roughly 75 pounds. Gone was the sports coat and button up shirt and banlon slacks. He restyled himself into some gross parody of the young hot singer he'd once been, dressing in workout clothes and sleeveless muscle shirts. Before he'd spent more than a couple of years trying to resuscitate his moribund career he lost his wife, his house and his children, and likely his pension too. The most he was able to score was a few times on a 1970s review playing county fairs as part of the 'Golden Oldies'

Michael is one of the causalities of 2016, dying alone, broke and senselessly. I wasn't surprised because all the photos I'd seen of him in concert in those last few years he looked quite unwell, no matter how bright brown he'd colored his hair or hipster clothes he'd donned.

I have to wonder how the back years of his life would have differed had he not heeded the siren call of rock and roll. Was it all worth it? Kinda doubt it. 

Gawd, I am so not going to miss 2016 and I hope 2017 brings far less deaths of folks I know or admire. But it's not looking good from here.

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