I saw this article yesterday where Keith Strickland of the B-52s talks about how making Cosmic Thing helped the band cope with the death of Ricky Wilson. Wow.
Usually, we think of records being cathartic for us, the listeners. Sometimes when there’s a really emotionally charged slow song (think R.E.M.’s “Let Me In”) we attribute that to the songwriters but when do we ever think that making shiny happy music could help cope with the dark feelings of loss? But it does, especially when you’ve lost someone extraordinarily close like a bandmate, a brother.
I think that Cosmic Thing is the most Athenian album out there. Not just because of all the references to the ATL Highway or Allens, but because of the way it came out of a painful place. It’s always struck me as odd that when a musician around here dies, the first thing anyone asks is not “When is the funeral?” but “Can I play the tribute show?”.
Strickland likens the album to an old time New Orleans funeral, the kind where everyone dances and parties and sings in celebration of LIFE. And Cosmic Thing is very much alive. It’s the type of thing you throw on and just dance and sing to. That joy of being unrestrained, of the possibility of being able to do what you want…Yeah, our troubles are still there in the morning but every day seems to get a bit more bearable as time goes on.
I remember watching “Deadbeat Club” as a little kid. I’d sing along as best I could in that cute “lets make up words that sound like the lyrics” kind of voice. When I hear it now, and especially when I see the video, I get a little teary eyed. Not sure why. I see that I’m not the only one. I guess we all sometimes wish we could go back to earlier days. But that’s not what life’s about. Like “Deadbeat Club,” we’ve got to keep moving on, taking the past for what it was and being glad we had it when we did.