As seen in Events Magazine July 2009
Music Editor Column
by Wayne D'Amico
"A lesson retold"
Exposure to music at a young age, just like sports or family dynamics,
can have a profound impact. By profound, I mean the deep seeded, long term type that shapes a person's direction, goals and psyche. To the extent that the exposure is through an individual and the experience is good, one can be inspired to tremendous heights and success. I can not recall an interview of a "successful" musician in recent time who is not asked, "who influenced you" or "who was your inspiration?" From Classical to Popular to Rock, the list is endless of the famous mainstream artists or even relatively unknown home town music teachers and parents who have inspired so many to choose a path the develop a musical talent to any number of degrees.
When someone is so famous to have created an enduring mark on so many, the term "icon" is often ascribed to such an inspiring individual. Whether the opportunity to inspire others is intentional or the contrary, there is a tremendous obligation thereafter on the part of this icon to appreciate and understand that so many are looking to them for joy, guidance and inspiration. As Yoda might say, "a great responsibility this is."
In times past, the burden of maintaining an iconic persona was not as great a challenge nor so all encompassing, but in today's society of 24/7 media outlets, audio and video surveillance on every other cell phone, post YouTube paparazzi and voyeuristic bedlam, one cannot avoid the implications of failing to maintain an unwavering rapport to sustain the reverence they've earned. In the musical arena, it should not be assumed that the iconic status is always for the subjective "good". There are the good and bad boys and girls in the public eye. It seems particularly challenging to those who earned fame at a young age who by the very nature of their youth, start out with an image of good and innocence, but as with any growing child there is the rebellion to shed that image. Whether an icon is a child or adult, with their artistic choice to transition from good to different, it is importance to handle this transition with utmost discretion, so as to minimize the often crushing impact such a change in persona can have.
With the recent passing of another musical icon, it has been sorrowfully bittersweet to be reminded of the great talent of a person who for 80% of his chronological life over four decades has offered such musical joy to the world. One man who's musical performances marked memories of special moments in our lives and inspired so many to achieve personal greatness in music and dance. Bittersweet because with the reminders of the good, we are pummeled with the disappointments of the tragedy of this icon's oddity. Passing no judgement on the truths, it remains unfortunate that the good can be so clouded by his self proclaimed possibly cinematic "Bad".
Musical icons mean so much to the development of musical preferences and talents, that I can only suggest, that to maintain the inspiration you've found, listen to your Albums, CDs or iPod and minimize TV news, tabloids and blogs.
Wayne D'Amico, based in Essex CT, has been a working musician and musical entertainer for over 25 years and hosts ClassicaCafe.com, a website for Guitar and professional musical gear enthusiasts.