Musings On Music History: A Legend Turned Soothsayer, A Comedian Turned Rock Star, and A Guitarist Turned Boxer

03.05: Sadness, yet again, as we lament the passing of another seminal singer before their time. On this day in 1963, a private plane carrying Patsy Cline crashed in severe weather, on its way to Nashville, where Cline wanted to be, so that she could get back to her kids. She was 30 years old. That Patsy portended her own death only adds to the sadness for us. She’d been telling friends for months that she felt her end was near, that she sensed doom on the horizon, that she’d already survived two bad car accidents that nearly killed her, so a third accident would be the end of her. She began to ask close friends to take care of her kids if anything ever happened to her. She tended to her estate, getting her things in order. Yes, this was weird then and it is weird now because maybe she did have a sense of her own death, a sense of the end of her time on this earth. It is unnerving to think that someone can know this. It brings into play so many other questions without answers and all leads back to one place for us. That is, we are not in control of our own destiny. Yes, heady stuff. But that’s what Patsy’s death brings out in us, beyond the sadness of a life gone too soon. She offered so much to the world, to women in country music, and to women everywhere. She showed everyone that women could play with the good ol’ boys in Nashville and beat them at their own game, that women could put out hit after hit and hold their own within the male-dominated country music scene of the early ’60s. From “Walkin’ After Midnight” to “Crazy” to “I Fall To Pieces,” Patsy’s emotion and assertiveness comes across loud and clear. She was a wonder to behold then and to listen to today. That she chose collaborators of exceptional quality and chops further cements, in our head, at least, her intelligence and tenacity in seeking out something that hadn’t been heard before in either country or pop music. She bridged the two genres, accompanied by gorgeous orchestration and arrangements, showing the world what it’d been missing all along. That she died so young probably added to the adoration which is heaped upon her, even 50 years later, but this is the way it always is with those who’ve died young, at the top of their respective games. Their lives are stuck in amber, frozen in time for all to see, for all to wonder what could have been, to marvel at what was, and mourn the passing. Today, however, as with all such days, we choose to celebrate their lives. Today we raise a glass to Ms. Cline. [more]

03.05: In 1982, on this day, John Belushi died from a drug overdose. He was 33. It doesn’t seem possible that he was only 33 years old. From his work on Saturday Night Live to his breakthrough performance in Animal House to his star-making turn in the musically awesome The Blues Brothers, Belushi’s screen time and persona belied his young age. All of the Not Ready For Prime-Time Players were rock stars in their own right, but Belushi is the one that really stood out, that really became the SNL rock star. That he lived the rock star lifestyle, as well, surprised no one then or now. It’s just a shame that it had to happen like that. Like everyone who is gone before their time, we are sad that they are gone, but grateful for what they left behind.

03.06: On this day in 2004, David Crosby left behind a bag of valuables (marijuana, knife and loaded .45 pistol) in a hotel room. The bag was later found and Crosby was arrested. David’s had his ups and downs, and while this is pretty low, it doesn’t even come close within his repertoire of downs. Believe it.

03.08: It wasn’t the Summer of ’69, but it was the Winter of ’03. A mother took her comatose daughter to a Bryan Adams concert in Regensburg, Germany, and the 24-year-old fan awoke from her coma. We couldn’t make this up if we tried.

03.09: On this day in 2004, Jack White, he of many bands (mainly The White Stripes, but also The Racounteurs and The Dead Weather) and production credits (most elegantly on Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose), guitarist, drummer, singer, and provocateur got into a little trouble with Johnny Law, when they hauled him in for public fisticuffs upon an unwilling person. Well, he got into a fight with a former friend, beat the crap out of said former friend, and was subsequently arrested for said beating the crap out of said former friend. Pleading guilty to aggravated assault, Jack paid his fine and took his court-ordered anger-management classes. He didn’t back down or deny what he’d done and took his punishment like a man. The fight stemmed from an ongoing argument over production credits that Jack had solely claimed, to the consternation of another party who also claimed production credits, on The Von Bondies Lack Of Communication. We don’t really care who produced what or who beat up who. We just know that Jack White’s band work, solo work, and production work puts to shame anything The Von Bondies have ever done, and they should’ve embraced and exploited Jack’s name instead of trying to take it to his grill. Then people might know who they are today. Nuff said. Love ya, Jack.