Here’s a way to be less “I’m so sad these icons died because I wanted more-more-more of what they had to give” and more “WHOA I can’t believe the wondrous guidance these collective deaths provide, I wish we could sanctify and turn to them for inspiration and direction in the new year ahead.”
We can. I did. Let’s welcome a select seven of 2016’s lost icons to the Tarot’s Major Arcana:
On one side of the screen, Carrie Fisher inspired and led revolts. On the other side she gave us an early definition of heroism and independence. In the sometimes unflattering spotlight, she helped others find their way through personal troubles by exposing her own and offering new hope.
What’s it mean when you pull The Princess card? When it shows up first in your seven-card spread? It means you better think fast and hard back to the most recent time when you were fierce, raw, fearless, genuine and generous. Whenever you were all that, reach back there and make your body and brain remember how you did it and do it again. Be that again. She was, and she expects you to do something useful, something real, with the gifts she gave you.
Because Gene Wilder followed his heart — and the heart rarely provides solid direction — he brought a gentle but intense confidence to seemingly impossible tasks. The mad spark in his eyes betrayed a drive that pushed him to explore creative landscapes including farce, action and fantasy. He found his way, always, and he invited us to laugh at his missteps along the path.
The Chocolatier says keep going. Weird times? Please. There are no not-weird times. Keep moving. Twirl things, twirl around things. Wear velvet.
Happy to blend in for the greater good, Glenn Frey nourished and deepened our love of timeless melodies and harmonies. He was rightly celebrated for his words and music, his voice forecasting the inevitable fear of a heartache tonight and his words celebrating a peaceful and sincere easy feeling.
The Eagle says yeah, it might hurt. Ok to shut down a little bit when that’s the case. Shut down and let me sing you through it and into the sweetness that follows, because hang on long enough and sweetness always follows.
The Spider from Mars
Never predictable, reliable only in that he would surely change directions and his new work would be strong, David Bowie was the restless and limitless possibility of art and music personified. He enraptured us with sound and vision and imagination, inspiring those who might have otherwise hidden in the fringe to accept and enjoy themselves, to dance to some of the most powerful music on this particular planet.
The Spider From Mars says the only thing in the way (if you think something’s in your way) is you. Change direction. Imagine a thing and then move to the pulse of that thing. Be limitless. Paint your face.
Prince crafted music as others would make meals. He shared profusely. His music was yours and he released more of it than most could collect, each work noteworthy for newfound energy and direction. He preached love, sex, funk, and Jesus, with equal conviction and élan. He was the nasty that the 80s needed, the soul the 90s needed, and he was the hardest-working royalty of the 21st century.
The Prince says do it full-on. More than you already are. You think you already are? The Prince says, show me. Show me yours. Show me more. Whatever you’ve got, do it and make it and give it even more.
Muhammad Ali called out hypocrisy in unrelenting detail. Powerful in body and mind, he withstood scorn, hate and ridicule and stood with his people against injustice. He was discipline, discernment, strength and flight.
The Greatest says stay sharp. Love yourself with focus, without apology. Be relentless and beautiful and relentlessly beautiful.
The Worker in Song
Beloved as a poet, a musician, a monk, Leonard Cohen was evidence that art is more physical work than divine gift. He would spend years on a single song, months on a word. He practiced patience and used it as a tool, never mind whether it was a virtue. The results were staggering works of love and yearning.
The Worker in Song says, do the work. Sit with it, sure. Sit long enough to make damn sure you mean this. Then get in there and then do the thing. Do the work. It’s all there is.
Catch The Frye tonight at Olive’s 9-12:30, lovingly covering some Bowie and Eagles and Prince and more.
Come get your real-deal Tarot read tomorrow 4-7 at Gold Lang Syne, a benefit for the cool-cool house concert series The Gold Mine.
That’s a lot of music and magic for one weekend. You need it. We need it.
The writer wishes to thank Joe Tougas for verbiage about what these icons actually did. I was kind of just more into what they wore.