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Do the young (artists) die good?

10 May 99 - 07:12 PM (#77306)
Subject: Do the young (artists) die good?
From: The Shambles

There has been a few comments in the 'Worst Single Lines' thread, about Jim Morrison's merits or otherwise. There is at present a TV programme on about Louis Armstrong. Both good 'folk' singers, I know, but it got me thinking and I would welcome your views, on the subject of artist's dying young, or at least not continuing to create into their dotage.

The majority of the comments about Morrison were mainly to the effect that his appeal was mainly to out youthful need for an icon that our parents would hate and his work does not age well. Had he not died young I wonder what we would think of his output now? Because he died young we will probably always remember him, despite his relatively small contribution to music. There did however appear to be at least one loyal follower.

Louis Armstrong did continue to perform well into old age and seems unfortunately to be remembered for his later work, singing songs like 'Wonderful World'. The fact that he went on for a long time obscuring the true genius and impact of his earlier work.

It reaffirmed what I thought about "The young dying good".

I'm sure there are examples of this in our music too?


Whilst explaining the main gist of this to 'my old trouble and strife' and telling her about the total originality of Louis Armstrong's trumpet playing, she replied that "I thought he was a guitar player".

10 May 99 - 07:35 PM (#77316)
Subject: RE: Do the young (artists) die good?

"Only the good die young!" Billy Joel. "Old soldiers never die - only young ones" anon. Tupak Shakur - A rap HIT everyone could appreciate.

10 May 99 - 07:38 PM (#77318)
Subject: RE: Do the young (artists) die good?
From: Rick Fielding

You're lucky Shambles, "Duckboots" wouldn't know and wouldn't care! Now Freddie Mercury and Dusty Springfield get her attention.

Sometimes when an artist dies young they are saved a lot of embarrassment. Sadly, ol' Satchmo was seen as an "uncle Tom" by his peers by the late thirties. He criticized publicly, virtually every new twist in jazz, including Charlie Parker and Dizzy, and said that Guy Lombardo was his FAVOURITE band! Just think what the reaction today would be if Louis had gotten hit by a truck after recording the "Hot Five" sessions. On the other hand tragedy spared us the sight of Bix joining the Lawrence Welk Orchestra in his later years. One of the great clarinetists of our day, Henry Cuesta, spent 20 years with Welk (probably earning a decent living) but is hardly ever mentioned by real jazz folk. Same thing for a lot of others. I love Elvis's first two if HE had died young, WOW!

10 May 99 - 07:39 PM (#77319)
Subject: RE: Do the young (artists) die good?
From: Chet W.

Did you leave your name off because of previous discussions about rap in these threads?

10 May 99 - 07:46 PM (#77323)
Subject: RE: Do the young (artists) die good?
From: Roger in Baltimore


Two "folk-singers", one American and one Canadian, come to mind. Kate Wolf from California died an early death from cancer (I believe). She is worshiped by many and panned by a few. Personally, I feel she wrote at least one classic , "Give Yourself to Love". I have a few albums and they are uneven in the quality of her songwriting. She probably had more good ones in her future if she had not died young.

Then there is Stan Rogers who died in a plane accident (not a crash). Obviously, he was in the top of his form when he died. I haven not heard a bad word about Stan. A few people believe he was over-rated. He had a wonderful voice, a love of his country and its history, and a pretty good way with words. I am sure he would have become more famous had he not died young.

Those who die young and aren't so good are probably just never heard from. Therefore, the young who die "bad" do so in relative obscurity and sink into oblivion.

Some old guys continue to do well. Doc Watson and Pete Seeger come to mind right away although both may be losing a step in their dotage!

Roger in Baltimore

10 May 99 - 09:59 PM (#77365)
Subject: RE: Do the young (artists) die good?
From: LEJ

Shamb, interesting topic. I suspect that I am that lone Jim Morrison follower you mentioned, although "follower" is probably a little strong.

Artists like Morrison as well as Buddy Holly, Phil Ochs, Sandy Denny, Jimi Hendrix and others often become icons after their deaths, and I think the reasons are three-fold. Usually, these artists were innovators who had a powerful impact on music during their brief lives. Their deaths beg the unanswerable question as to whether, after their early contributions, they would have continued in that vein. It is the mystery of their lost potential. The second factor exists for those of us who were their contemporaries. To us, they represent a period in history, and more particularly in our personal histories, when we were filled with unlimited uncontrolled energy - their images become snapshots from our past. The third factor is the inability of these people to ever undergo the slow and inevitable change that age brings to the rest of us mortals; in our minds, they become some sort of ageless demi-gods, transfixed in youth and innocence. We can smile at their immaturity and folly, but for all our gathered wisdom and maturity, we would not have those things bestowed upon them.

And we look back at them- some of them we look upon through the hard lens of the contravening years, just as we look back and shake our heads at the bad poetry and lost loves of our own youth, and we find them wanting. And others seem to dwell in a Paradise Lost, where music, poetry and love were more intense and immediate, and where their folly is also our folly.


11 May 99 - 02:18 PM (#77562)
Subject: RE: Do the young (artists) die good?
From: The Shambles


That just about say's it..Thanks.

11 May 99 - 03:43 PM (#77595)
Subject: RE: Do the young (artists) die good?
From: Margo

Yes indeed. Both Mozart and Schubert were quite young when they died. I love the songs written by both of these guys. And what about the velvet voice of Karen Carpenter? I wish she'd lived long enough to do other kinds of music. I'm sure there are more, these came off the top of my head.