For our Vojo assignment, Katy, Ian and I invited people to share their memories of a popular musician who passed away in 2016.
2016 had no shortage of tragedy, particularly in the world of music. Right off the bat, January alone took David Bowie and Glenn Frey (The Eagles), and the rest of the year didn’t let up. At one point in the Spring, my dad and I actually found ourselves trying to guess which iconic musician would be the next to go.
Through the past 12 months, we lost not only legends like Prince, Leonard Cohen and Leon Russell, but also some younger stars like Viola Beach and Thomas Fekete (Surfer Blood). No matter what kind of music you like, you had a reason to mourn this year.
As we collected responses from friends and family, we were amazed at some of the everyday things people can tie in when it comes to their favorite musicians. A couple people talked about how family members identified more with a particular musician than they did, or vice versa. My dad mentioned how he didn’t get into David Bowie until his pop-centric ‘80s phase, even though his brothers had enjoyed his earlier, more experimental albums for years. Meanwhile, Brent Shinkle talks about how Prince was a favorite of his parents when he was growing up. It’s amazing to see how one’s taste in pop culture can be shaped by different sources. Brent grew up with Prince, so there was no escaping. However, my dad discovered David Bowie on his own, without influence from his family.
Overall, everyone we heard from has something personal to share, beyond just simply liking an artist. Whether it’s Brent discovering Motorhead thanks to one of his favorite professional wrestlers, or Leon Russell’s “Tight Rope” being one of the first songs Steve Wilkins learned to play… Everyone has a story to contribute, and it gives each artist their own sort of mini-folklore. It would be silly to think of these artists just in terms of record sales and Grammy wins… They’re more than just a product of the entertainment industry, and by influencing so many people, they blur the line between pop culture and folklore.
Included here is a SoundCloud playlist featuring some of our favorite responses to the Vojo prompt. We added some music clips to make it a little more fancy!
We had a lot of fun with this assignment! Here’s to a lot less tragedy in 2017.