What is the “Muse” you may ask. Well, by definition, “the Muse or Muses” in Greek mythology are the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. They were in charge of the arts, music, lyrics, comedy, and more.
“The Muses, therefore, were both the embodiment’s and sponsors of performed metrical speech: mousike (whence the English term “music”) was just “one of the arts of the Muses”.”
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They were also of the jealous type. Which leads me to this.
[hmtad name=”Adsense Unit 2″ align=”floatleft”] As I look back over time. Over and over there seems to be a repeating pattern. Though we literally have had thousands of actors/actresses, writers, painters, poets, and musicians, it seems only a select few come to the top and soar at a young age. They stand way out in front of everyone else. Usually it’s about one per decade. They shine and then for some reason are snuffed out as quickly as a flame on a birthday candle. Is it due to their addictions? Underlying issues? Hobbies? Recklessness? Just plain dumb luck or something else. Something like a…Muse?
No one “really” knows where the gifts come from I suppose. Some say they are handed out by God. Some say they are gifted from their deceased ancestors that have passed it on from generation to generation. Some believe that the Muses actually hand pick those that are “worthy’ of a gift, a talent, or a possession. Others have been known to have gone down to the ‘Crossroads” and made a deal with the devil or “Scratch” as he is sometimes known as. Hence the scripture, “Principalities, Powers, World Rulers of Darkness, and Spiritual Wickedness in High Places”. But, over and over, someone takes off and makes and incredible mark upon the landscape and then they are quickly…gone. I have often wondered, does the individual that becomes “that” icon, do they realize it and do they wonder if they are “next”.
So do they just “Live fast and Die young” due to bad habits and addictions or or did the Muse come for them? Or, did these young super stars realize that they were on the path of destruction and when they tried to pull out, the Muse stepped in and well, for lack of a better term. Called in their note.
Take for example Music. It’s a universal thing. It moves us. It changes us. It can, if we allow it, shape us. It goes to the very soul of most of us. Very few people could “live without” music and be content. Everyone has a favorite song or lyric. Something about it that sparks the human soul. Some worship God with it. Some worship celestial beings with it. Music gets us rowdy, it can also calm the troubled soul. We fight to it. We make love to it. We go off to wars being lead by it. It’s far more than just back ground music or noise.
In the following paragraphs I will explore some examples as to why I think there is “Muse”. All of these artists burnt out too soon, but as to why they did? I don’t have the answers. Only questions. Let’s go back in time.
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A master at the Mississippi delta blues and looked up to from the likes of Eric Clapton. He was ranked # 5 at out 100 all time guitar greats by Rolling Stone magazine. He played juke joints, street corners and Saturday night dances. He is the guy that was rumored to have went “down to the crossroads” and made a pack with the devil. He found no fame or fortune while he was alive. Supposedly poisoned by a jealous husband he died at the age of 27.
“A Rebel without a Cause”
A rising but ultimately a brief shooting star. A complex individual. His acting skills skyrocketed him to fame and admiration. He set the standard from the American teenager of the 1950’s. The “I don’t give a damn” attitude he personificated. Everyone wanted to be James Dean. His clothing style and rebel attitude is still emulated to this day. Girls wanted to be with him and guys wanted to be him. Henry Winkler ‘s character the “Fonz” from the 70’s sitcom “Happy Days” was based loosely on him.
A lot has been said about James Dean over the years. The stories of the women he dated. The reported stories of him also having boyfriends or at least male sex partners. (He has been quoted as saying “No, I am not a homosexual. But I’m also not going to go through life with one hand tied behind my back.”) The legend of James Dean lives on long after the man himself has passed. One can watch any of his movies such as “East of Eden” or “Rebel without a Cause” and see he was truly a genius.
His demise. An avid fan of racing cars, he was on his way to a racing event in Salinas California in his Porsche 550 Spyder when a Ford Tudor pulled out at an intersection on Highway 466 and slowed down. James Dean’s car slammed into the Tudaor almost head on. His Mechanic Rolf Wütherich was thrown from the car and though he was badly injured he lived. However, on September 30, 1995, at the age of 24, James Byron Dean on a deserted California highway, drove off into History.
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Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper
“The Day the Music died”
His songs “That’ll be the Day” and “Peggy Sue” busted the music charts wide open. He inspired countless others after him. From the Beatles to Eric Clapton. He is known for setting up the standard for which most rock bands to this day adhere to. Two guitars, one bass, a drum set and a singer.
He blazed hot for four short years. “The day the music died” goes the lyrics to a song written by Don McLean of that fateful day. On the early morning of February 3rd, 1959,in a winter snow storm, a small Beechcraft Bonanza airplane took off from Clear lake Iowa heading toward Minnesota. It went down within five miles of the runway it had just taken off from. Three young and budding rockstars lay scattered about the frozen ground. It would be at least ten hours before they were found. Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper flew into History. Ritchie being the youngest at 17 and The Big Bopper being 28. Buddy Holly was 22…Was it just dumb luck, bad weather, or a combination of all of these plus bad piloting skills from the pilot or did the Muse have something to do with it? I don’t have a smoking gun on this one.
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For some reason it seems the Muse went into overtime during the 70’s. There were several shooting stars that flamed out too fast. I will cover a few of the more prominent ones.
Rock and Roll’s original guitar gunslinger. He was left handed and played the guitar left handed but strung right handed so the strings were upside down. According to Wikipedia, in 1969 he was the world’s most highest paid rock star of the time. His blazing guitar solos and heavy Voo Doo type funky rhythms and fuzz tones made him the poster child for the hippie movement. His rendition of the “Star Spangled banner” closing out Woodstock is heralded as the greatest moment of the 60’s. He stated once in an interview that nobody cared about him they only cared about his guitar playing… Drugs and alcohol would be his downfall. On September 18, 1970, at the age of 27, Jimi slipped over into the purple haze of the afterlife and left this world.
Janis, another icon of the 70’s, actually more from the sixties but she is mostly remembered for the early 70’s. One of the first female Rock stars. She fronted the band ” Big Brothers and the Holding Company” before going out as a solo artist. She rode hard and she hung up wet. An early outcast at school, she was once quoted as saying” “I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I didn’t hate niggers.” She also performed at Woodstock like her fellow afterlife mate Jimi. She was so unhappy with her performance she didn’t allow it to used in the Woodstock movie. If you read on in Wikipedia it talks about her classmates voting her “Most ugliest man on Campus”. She had the voice of a Whiskey torn Bluesy goddess but she was tender and vulnerable on the inside…She along with Grace Slick, busted the doors wide open for future female artists. Her love affairs were many. From having sex with her female friend Peggy to doing psychedelic hard drugs. She lived a fast life. After receiving a dose of heroin that was too strong, On October 4, 1970, at the age of 27, Janis went to sleep at the Landmark Motor Hotel and woke up somewhere in the cosmic universe leaving her psychedelic porsche in the parking lot. Her song “Me and Bobby McGee” released posthumous, was her only number one hit.
Jim Morrison, the Lizard King. Lead singer and song writer of the band “The Doors”. Another causality of the late 60’s early 70’s time frame. More of a spoken poet than singer Jim Morrison along with the Doors songs were a staple of the late 60’s. Songs like “Hello’ I love you”, “Light my Fire” and “People are strange” summed up the psychedelic drug culture of the time. Morrison also was an accomplished writer releasing to self published books of poetry. A bohemian and frequent drug user Jim slowly dissolved into a shadow of himself. Gaining weight and growing a beard, trying to incite a riot at show and being accused of exposing his “lizard king” to the audience and being late became the norm. Jim went to Paris in March of 1971 and rented an apartment on the Rue Beautreillis. On July 3rd, 1971 after supposedly ingesting Heroin and snorting cocaine (no autopsy was performed) Jim, lit his fire and at the age of 27, slipped over the side of life and into the night everlasting.
You can’t scan the radio stations today without finding “Free Bird”, “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Simple Man” being played somewhere. Formed in 1968 in Jacksonville Florida and eventually settling on mocking the name of their P.E. teacher whom hated their long hair Lynyrd Skynyrd was basically “kicking Southern Ass” straight out of the gate. On October 20th 1977, after playing a show at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium in South Carolina. The band boarded their chartered plane to Baton Rouge Louisiana. They never made it. Due to a faulty engine and running out of fuel the plane crashed near Gillsburg Mississippi killing 6 members of the band and crew. The story doesn’t stop here though. Ronnie Van Zant was the singer of the band. According to Wikipedia, Ronnie was quoted as saying many times that he would not live to be 30 years old. Here is an excerpt.
“According to former bandmate Artimus Pyle and family members, Van Zant frequently discussed his mortality. Pyle recalls a moment when Lynyrd Skynyrd was in Japan: “Ronnie and I were in Tokyo, Japan, and Ronnie told me that he would never live to see thirty and that he would go out with his boots on, in other words, on the road. I said, ‘Ronnie, don’t talk like that,’ but the man knew his destiny.” Van Zant’s father, Lacy, said, “He said to me many times, ‘Daddy, I’ll never be 30 years old.’ I said, ‘Why are you talking this junk?’ and he said, ‘Daddy, that’s my limit.'” Van Zant’s father later noted that, “God was a jealous god. Taking him for reasons I don’t know.” Van Zant was 29 years old at the time of his death.”
So did Ronnie actually know his destiny or…
John is one of the older ones on our list today. One of the original cast members of the not ready for prime time players of “Saturday Night Live”, He basically carried the show with his characters and antics. He was also a member of the Blues Brother’s band and stared as “Bluto” in the now classic movie “Animal House”. Who can forget “Samurai Delicatessen” or “Cheese burger, Cheese burger, Cheese burger no Pepsi” skits! John was extremely funny and a versatile actor. He suffered from extreme highs and extreme lows. On March 5th, 1982 John chased the dragon for the last time. and was found dead by overdose. Years later his drug dealer acknowledged she injected him with the lethal dose of drugs and served 15 months in prison for it.
A true shooting star. He burst on the scene after being recommended to audition for Ozzy Osborne. Who at the time had been recently fired by Black Sabbath and was looking for a guitar player to start a new band with. The story goes that Randy showed up late one night after Ozzy hearing Toni Iommi clones all day. He set up his practice amp and started tuning his guitar and Ozzy said “you got the job” without him even actually playing. Randy, raised up around music his whole life took guitar lessons while he was young. The guitar teacher eventually telling Randy’s mom that he couldn’t teach him anymore because he “knew” everything he knew. Randy was in a somewhat successful LA. based band called “Quiet Riot” before teaming up with Ozzy. Randy’s guitar technique combined classical music and rock. The two albums he made with Ozzy were trendsetters and took the rock world by storm. He rapidly was voted “Best new talent” in the “Guitar Player Magazine” in 1981. And just like that, he was gone in March of 1982. He died in a plane crash. His guitar playing was ions above everyone else at the time. An interesting note. It was well known he was going to leave Ozzy and go back to teaching. The autopsy report stated that Randy’s right hand was missing in the plane crash. His picking hand. Did the Muse give him that talent and take it away?
I hesitate to even mention Kurt because in reality. He took his own life. But with saying that. He had his demons too. Growing up a kid in Washington, a place known more for bands like Queensryche, Kurt took a way of life and hard times and somehow managed to draw it out in his music. His ideas and stripped down music caught the world by surprise and he, like everyone in this article inspired an entire generation. He almost unofficially opened and closed the “grunge” movement. In his song “Come as You Are” He swore he didn’t have a gun but sadly he did. On April 5, 1994, in an upstairs room in his house in Seattle Washington, at the age of 27, Kurt being quoted as once saying “he would rather burn out than fade away” took his own life and closed the grunge movement.
I could go on and on and add more people. There are several admiral mentions to such as River Phoenix, Heath Ledger, Amy Winehouse to mention a few names.
So, does the Muse exist? Is it real? Or did these shooting stars just come to an untimely end? Some by their own demons and some by just plain dumb luck? What do you think?