I've been more forgiving of my tendency to disengage than perhaps I've been of others who do the same. Yet, in other ways I demand more of myself than is perhaps necessary, or healthy; but this probably true of all of us. Over the years I've flirted with the notion of attending a concert of my favorite music performer (and diva), namely Donna Summer, and upon hearing the news of her passing today, the matter is now closed, yet not entirely satisfactorily. For reasons many of us can understand, re-experiencing the music of one's teen years brings us to the place where the past and present collide, or at least hustle across a frenzied dance-floor. Perhaps, in once again listening to the melodies that accompanied the passage of one's formative years, the unchecked and unfiltered memories that rise from the depths of history can be disconcerting. For in the place between lyric and melody when one is unguarded and vulnerable, all the markers of an individual's life are clearly evident. When I reflect upon that span of time between first hearing McArthur Park in 1978 and now, I imagine an aural landscape in which stand two figures, a reckless sophomore eager to experience life's adventures, and a cautious adult questioning the movements of the stars, and the torn and tattered scrolls of ancient scribes.
Rising clearly above the din and clamor of the 70's were the sultry vocals and a driving disco beat that perfectly captured the changing aesthetic and mood of America. Bridging R+B/soul and trance/pop, Donna Summer crooned and all of my generation swooned to hit after hit, without completely grasping that sooner or later it--this, would soon end; that it was so so wonderful for some (and not others); and that none of us would live forever. With today's announcement of the passing of Ms Summer, any illusions have been laid to rest, and the world seems a little emptier. In time this feeling will pass, as does everything.
PS: Today's soundtrack is McArthur Park.