Have you got an odd tale to tell? Want to share it with our readers? Select our Share A Story link on the Main menu and include “A Sunday Read” in the subject line.
We’d like to make this a regular Sunday morning feature — an opportunity for local writers to share their thoughts, a little bit of prose — and maybe some poetry as well.
So what is it about aging — and, yes, dead — rockstars that has the 50-plus crowd sharpening their collective elbows to get at tickets for farewell concerts and biopic features at local cinemas?
Tracey and I attended Bohemian Rhapsody Tuesday evening and I couldn’t help but notice much of the decidedly grey audience was still in seats and engrossed in the images as the credits rolled on Freddie Mercury’s life story.
And it was a loud murmur of anticipation that rolled through the audience as a trailer for Elton John’s Rocketman aired prior to the movie beginning.
The easy answer? It’s the music, of course.
Many of us grew up on Queen and can easily fist-pump, stomp and clap our way through the anthems that gave voice to this epic two-hour-and-fourteen-minute roller-coaster of a ride through the 1970s and early 80s.
I’m not ashamed to say the movie’s finale — a 20-minute segment of Queen performing at 1985’s Live Aid Concert at Wembley Stadium — had me all but wanting to stand up and rock out with the 100,000 or so gathered for the event. As it was, my toes were tapping as I sat uncomfortably still in the dark.
The music was — is — that good.
As we left the theatre, I gave considerable thought to how I felt after watching the movie. What I was left with was a sadness — numbed somewhat by the loss of a talent snuffed out too early in excess and tragedy.
I felt that way when I heard about Amy Winehouse. And Prince. And even Michael Jackson.
Like many of my contemporaries, going to the movie was my way of paying tribute to Mercury, thanking him for playing such a large role in our adolescence.
Yes, it’s the music, but I have to admit it’s something else, that desire to reach back 30 or 40 years and hold on tight to the shell of what we once were. I think I’ve finally defined it.
It’s a bittersweet melancholy, not so much that youth is slipping away, but more so that unlike those we revere on screen and on stage, sometimes there’s just not enough to show for a lifetime lived.
As I passed 50, I remember pondering my life as a glass-half-empty proposition. A dream of being a tennis professional ended for me at age 25. Although I’ve penned and published so many words in news stories, articles and promotional materials that I can only remember a tiny portion of them, no books have been written. Instead, I’ve got a finished screenplay in storage, several manuscripts awaiting my attention and thousands of photos cluttering hard drives.
I survived a divorce, a heart attack, a cancer scare. I’ve started, bought and sold companies and made — and lost — a couple of fortunes.
Sometimes, it really does seem like I’m caught in a landslide with no escape from reality.
And then I remember I’m still young. I think about seven children, as many grandchildren and my beautiful, loving and supportive wife and I realize I’ve actually accomplished a lot — at least among a few important (to me) people.
I’ve become — I hope — a better-than-decent human being.
Each of us lives his or her own bohemian rhapsody. We’re wanderers, chasing unique individualistic pursuits. The trick is to keep an eye on what’s important and remember that pretty much everything else is “easy come, easy go” and none of it really matters.
For me, what’s important is looking after my loved ones, trying to make my little corner of the world better in some small way — and just enjoying the ride.
Your wandering might be the same, or it might be completely different.
But if, occasionally, you want to look back at your youth, ponder the good times and shake your head at the folly, go ahead and do it.
You’ve earned it, you wanderer, and you’ve got the sharp elbows to prove it.