2016 has started with great losses to the music industry, most notably David Bowie, Glenn Frey and Maurice White. Three artists who were a major part in the songbook of the lives of kids in my generation, the 70’s.
While we have suffered other notable losses this year, the loss of these three forces hit home pretty hard. Writer Marc Eliot, in an op ed on CNN.com, wrote “For people who came up in that time, the death of Frey — and earlier this month the death of David Bowie — comes as a reality check, a resounding reminder that the days of “Take it Easy” and the promise of “One of these Nights” are long behind us. Instead, music, the blood of our youth, has somehow been replaced by mortgages, credit cards, spouses, children, divorces, alimony, expanding waistlines and diminished dreams.”
While I do agree their passings are a reminder that we are no longer 17, I think it is a stark reminder of something else. A loss of something much more. It is a reminder that our innocence is gone and will probably never come back.
Listening to Bowie, The Eagles and Earth, Wind and Fire takes me back to a time when we were free and unafraid. We could sit in the park in our cars with the windows down and not worry about harm coming to us. Our parents sent us to school and it never crossed their minds that we may not come back at the end of the day. We went to public places, like the mall or movie theater, and were never concerned about being safe. We walked to the store, stood at bus stops and played outside and it never crossed our minds that out of nowhere we could get shot or knocked out by some thug who’s idea that is of “fun”. We rode bikes far away from home, stayed outside until the street lights came on and went to the neighbor’s house and our parents didn’t worry that we would come to harm at the hands of another person both known and unknown.
Were there bad people at that time? Of course there were. But we were protected and allowed to do what we did best, be kids and enjoy our childhood. We were shielded from the bad people and it wasn’t until we were much older that we even knew who the bad people were.
I cannot imagine being a parent today. Worrying each time a child steps out of the door. Constantly watch the clock while they are gone. The sense of panic every time there is a news report of a problem at a school, bus stop, theater, mall or restaurant. The sense of foreboding every time they are in a car with their friends. Playing outside has become such an unfamiliar practice that when we see it we ask “What’s wrong with those parents? Don’t they know it’s dangerous out here?”
I don’t know if we can ever get that innocence back. I guess it’s just a time that lives in our memories and our recordings now. The deaths of David, Glenn and Maurice hit home that there is an end and that saddens me. But I’m even more sad at the loss of all that we were when we were listening to those great songs.