I have a stupid style of grieving. When someone tells me something sad I usually let it kick around awhile until it’s well and truly processed and then, sometimes it’s months later, I have a good ol’ session of loud music and crying to purge the sad, like popping a blister of tears. (How sylvia plath 15year old poetry is that line? Ohwell. I’m keeping it.)
So when Levon Helm died a few weeks ago I told Facebook I was sad, because I was. Telling Facebook you’re sad is how my generation raises a glass of good whisky to the sunset in honour of the dead. I prefer the Waking Ned Divine way of actually doing that except a) I do not like whisky–good or bad, it all smells like old men on the train* and b)with as many people I admire dying I’d have to start selling my teeth like Fantine in order to pay for all that Connemara Single Malt.
This afternoon while listening to music my iTunes shuffled around to Mavis singing ‘The Weight’ and I just burst out in tears. Salt tears. I then spent an hour listening to all the highlights of Levon, crying especially when we got to the lines ‘you put the load right on me’ and ‘they should never have taken the very best’.
I finally shifted out of grief mode when Van and The Band joined in on the chorus of ‘Comfortably Numb’ on ‘Wall: Live In Berlin’. And I listened to some Van for cooldown. I also did this when mourning Zevon. It now occurs to me that I have no prayer of an idea whom I’ll listen to when Van dies. There’s really nobody after Van. Maybe I’ll give Tull a try, because Ian Anderson has a way about him, but still. Van is Van.
And now that things seem better off…
*Oddly, I DO enjoy the smell of pipe tobacco. Since I don’t want anyone I know dying of cancer I’m thinking of just buying a meerschaum pipe and burning good tobacco in it like incense so that my house will smell like learned old gentlemen. Clearly I like the smell of old men if they are in libraries, but not on Amtrak. Yes, I sat next to some whisky-stink men on a train home from Chicago. Well, not “next to” because I was actually “next to” my brother Dave and hording all the buckeyes in a brown paper sack. But the stank old men were near enough to fumigate our row.