When I’m working at home I tend to listen to the radio for company. We listen to Radio 2 in the office and I have started putting it on at home as well. There’s a fair bit of music that isn’t to my taste but there’s some old stuff that I like and they actually play some new stuff too (who knew?). The best bit is that there’s a fair bit of chat which makes it feel a bit more like there are other people here. That sounds a bit sad, but even if I don’t really listen to half of it, it’s still quite nice.
Monday was not a good day for me for the radio. When I woke up and checked my emails and then my Twitter feed, I discovered that David Bowie had died. Sad. I couldn’t call myself a Bowie fan; I like some of his older stuff: Ashes to Ashes, Life on Mars, Starman, etc. – mainly because they make me think of the TV programmes with Gene Hunt and Bolly-Knickers – but no, definitely not a ‘fan’. So, to find that the whole country (in the form of my radio) seemed to be Bowie grief-stricken was a bit annoying.
I do understand that music has a big impact on people. I’ve written before about my love for music and how it can make me feel better when I’m having a bad day. I do have an emotional connection with certain songs and bands/singers. But, I don’t really understand this “grief” that people are expressing at the loss of a singer. He was certainly iconic and changed the face of music during his time. I appreciate that he undoubtedly helped a large number of people feel happier with themselves at a time when it was not acceptable to be different. He will be sadly missed by his fans and contemporaries, but far more so by his family and friends. People that actually knew him. Someone phoned in to one of the radio programmes and said that they had been unable to go to work, so overcome with “grief” that they couldn’t face it. Can you really feel true grief for someone that you have never met, someone you didn’t really know?
Listening to people say that they were as devastated by his death as they were of that of a parent or sibling, was shocking. Music is powerful, and music is something I would hate to live without. But to mourn the loss of a singer as much as a parent seems a little extreme to me. Radio stations were criticised for not playing non-stop Bowie records all day. I thanked the stars that they didn’t. The half hour stretches and constant phone-ins was bad enough.
Yesterday wasn’t much better, but I was interested to hear a discussion with a psychologist about “public grief” and how it is a phenomenon that has become more prevalent in our society in recent years. She cited the outpourings of public grief at the death of Princess Diana as being the start of it all; that we had never before seen such a public response to the death of a ‘celebrity’ (of sorts). The death of Elvis probably elicited a similar response to the death of Bowie but mainly in America (a much more hysterical nation than us Brits ;-)). I do remember my mum being sad that he had died, but not wailing-and-taking-to-her-bed-sad. The psychologist explained that, at a time when we are faced with so many unpleasant events taking place in the world, people welcome an opportunity to be upset and have a good cry. I can see how that can be true – we all have days when all we need is to sit and watch a sad film, to get it out of our system. But to take time off work and talk about “grief” for the death of a celebrity (be they singer, princess, actor or whoever) still seems a bit over the top to me.
Perhaps it’s just me?
Anyway, pleased to say that normal service seems to have been resumed and although we still seem to be having the odd Bowie moment, it’s bearable.