I remember the first time I heard Motorhead. Like, really heard Motorhead, as in listened to a whole album. I had probably heard Ace of Spades years prior, but listening to a whole Motorhead album was like getting in a car wreck. It’s exhilarating, disorienting, and afterwards you’re not quite sure what happened, but you’re sure something has changed.
Google “bands like Motorhead.” Go ahead, do it. Google will associate a number of bands that are related, and none of those bands are quite like (or even close) to Motorhead. That might be as great a modern compliment that can be paid to a band, especially one has storied as Motorhead.
I loved Motorhead mainly because they were a perfect blend of old-school metal sensibilities and punk rock energy. They certainly weren’t either genre, but a blend of each genre’s strengths. The constant, never-ending sonic assault personified the best parts of loud music, and there really hasn’t been anything like them since.
At the center of Motorhead was Lemmy Kilmister, probably the best-named frontman in all of music (and at the very least, that last name is real). The mole, the gravel-on-fire voice, then relentless energy. Even when his lyrics weren’t aggressive, every word had “fuck you, this is what I love, and you’re going to fucking like it” laced into it.
Some would rag on Motorhead for never really changing or re-inventing themselves. “If you’ve heard one Motorhead song you’ve heard them all” is certainly a thing I’ve heard many times. Normally I would hop on that “evolve, please” train, but fuck that. No one else was giving you what Motorhead gave you. It was simple, it was primal, it was relentless, it was punching your eardrum with every beat. I’d like to think that they knew this, and that they considered trying a new creative approach, but then collectively said “fuck that, we’re doing what we love”. I can’t rag on that.
Lemmy, and by proxy Motorhead, was special. I’m sure we’ll find another band with the same perfect blend of genre and merciless aggression, but I don’t think there’ll ever be anything quite like Lemmy or Motorhead again.
The cultural impact of David Bowie is practically immeasurable. Setting aside any part of what he did is to do him a disservice; his entire creative body of work in the studio, on the stage, and on the screen all screams one simple truth: be who you are, and don’t be afraid of it.
Two common threads throughout all of Bowie’s work is unabashed love in what he was doing, and not a care in the world what anyone thought of it. No matter how strange the costume, or how unconventional the music, David Bowie was truly authentic, honest, and artistic.
The joy of Bowie’s work permeated throughout culture. He showed us all that it’s OK to be who you are, no matter how strange or weird you think it might be. He showed us that if we’re being true to what we’re doing, there is no social barrier that can stop you. He showed us that no matter how strange, art is art.
To me, David Bowie isn’t among my favorite musicians. A few select songs are special to me for differing reasons, but I rarely put on David Bowie by my own volition. However, his presence in music is to be respected, revered, remembered. There is nothing more gratifying to witness than an artist performing his art on their terms, with no fear of repercussion. David Bowie did that every moment of his artistic life, and that’s something we should all learn from.
Alan Rickman is one of my favorite actors. His trademark double-bass voice and premier acting ability lent credibility to a strange movie in my childhood, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Despite Kevin Costner barely making an effort to sound British, Rickman’s performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham was memorable to me. The “carve his heart out with a spoon/IT’S DULLER, IT’LL HURT MORE” line was a source of great joy to me, in particular.
I don’t remember him as Snape; I have seen some of the Harry Potter movies, but didn’t get too much in them. I remember him as Marvin. As the Metatron. As Hans Gruber. All unique roles for a unique talent.
What is there to learn from him, besides that he’s a great actor? That giving up on a dream can be foolish. Hans Gruber (Die Hard, for you plebeians who haven’t seen the greatest Christmas movie of all time) was his first major role, and he was 42 when he got that role. It was only his 9th credit on television or film, and his first role in three years at the time. 42! How many people have given up by then? All? I’d assume all if it wasn’t for him.
All three of these wonderful souls have passed on, sadly. All three gave something wonderful to the world, and all three will likely never be duplicated. While they were all in different worlds, they all taught us important lessons through their life’s work.
When people talk about “legacy”, that’s what we should be thinking about. Not how much stuff we have, or what personal accomplishments we achieved. What is important is the meaning of those accomplishments to the world around us, and the lives we touched in a positive manner in our journey to them. All three of these men did just that, in different but interesting ways.