“I Hope I Die Before I Get Old” . . . Club 27 Adds A Member


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What is it about 27? Astrologists blame Saturn. I blame fame. Of all the members of Club 27, I don’t think ANY of them were really comfortable with just how famous they became at such relatively young ages. Hendrix just wanted to get high and play guitar. Janis loved to sing her heart out and she had a pretty crappy voice . . . but she still hits me right in my soul whenever “Me and Bobby McGee” shows up on my iPod. Pete Ham and the rest of Badfinger were supposed to be the next Beatles, until they weren’t and Pete hung himself. The Lizard King? I don’t know about him. He was ONE WEIRD DUDE. Pigpen drank. I mean, how can you get cirrhosis of the liver at freaking 27 years old? I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I liked the Dead’s sound much better with Pigpen than their later psychedelic stuff. Pigpen sounded good even if you WEREN’T high. Robert Johnson? I think the Devil called in his marker. I don’t think young Mr. Johnson really knew what kind of deal he was signing at the crossroads that dark night . . . and yes, I actually believe he sold his soul to the actual Devil in exchange for the ability to play and sing the blues like no one before him and a pitiful few since him.

Whatever curse the 27th year holds doesn’t really matter. All I know is that I’m sad right now and I really think I could cry but it would just make my head hurt worse and that wouldn’t help anything. Unlike a lot of my feelings and emotions, I can tell you EXACTLY the first and, til now, last time I felt this sick inside — April 9, 1994. I was on my way to my crappy job as a dye tech at a textile plant and I heard on my truck radio that Kurt Cobain was dead. I remember distinctly thinking, “Well, she finally killed him.” I still think she did too. Her PI found the body and they were always a train wreck anyway. She just got a little too out of control and shot him then staged the scene.

Now, Amy Winehouse is gone. It was just a little over a year ago I had this nagging feeling in my gut and head and this little internal voice kept saying, “Man, why don’t you try to get in touch with her? She’s a mess and she ain’t always been like that; maybe you could talk some sense into her.” Obviously, I figured that would have been stupid to even try, so I just pushed that feeling away. I wonder, though, if — by some miracle — I DID manage to get to talk to her personally if I could have changed anything. I mean, I’m just a middle age hick from a Podunk town in a Podunk state. I really doubt she’d have listened to a think I had to say . . . but I still can’t get over the memory of that feeling.

I hope y’all will forgive me for picking the picture of her off the cover of “Back to Black.” That’s how I want to remember her — clear-eyed and soaring, not strung out and falling down. She was really a very voluptuous and beautiful young woman with an amazing, smoky voice that belonged in an old Hollywood black and white movie. I heard she started losing so much weight because a magazine critic mentioned in an article that Amy looked a little heavy in the hips. If that’s the case, I hope that writer is happy now. More likely though, the fame led to the drugs and the drugs led to the grave. It’s like I said on Facebook — sometimes that limelight is so bright and hot it can burn the heart and soul and finally the life right out of a person who didn’t really want all that fame in the first place. I just don’t know.

I doubt you will, but I hope you rest in peace, Club 27 . . . you left us WAY too soon with a lot of music  unwritten and unsung.

The rest of y’all remember I love you and keep those feet clean.

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