The Great Gig in the Sky

30 May

Please tell me that the hereafter isn't overrun with Deadheads ...

Over this Memorial Day weekend, I’ve been thinking about musicians who died too soon: by accident or illness, or addiction, or by their own hand. (Few have succumbed to old age, although now that Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and other trailblazers from the  Fifties are in their seventies and eighties, that may change, sadly, any day now.)

Since everyone from Elvis to three-fourths of the Ramones have already passed through the Pearly Gates, it’s tempting to think about the jam sessions that may be delighting the ears of the angels right now:

  • Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury doing medleys of each other’s hits
  • Bo Diddley and Bob Marley offering master classes in the international language of rhythm
  • Johnny Cash swapping stories with Hank Williams during their acoustic set
  • Janis Joplin trading vocals with Wilson Pickett on “I’m Sorry About That” and “Summertime”
  • John and George, their rift forever mended, playing the Beatles catalogue in its entirety, with Buddy Holly filling in for Paul and Jon Bonham keeping time for Ringo

Given the grace of the Almighty, even a rotter like Keith Moon is probably raising holy hell in heaven.

It’s also tempting to consider which musicians I’d like to see once Saint Peter grants me an all-access pass.

My vision of the afterlife is kind of like the holodeck from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I imagine I’ll be able to conjure up anyone I’ve ever wanted to see in concert, then take my place ten feet away from the stage surrounded by my loved ones and like-minded fans – none of whom block my view or dribble beer on my shoes – and celebrate the joyous musical miracle playing before us.

So who’d be the headliner in my  heavenly line up?

The way I see it, Saint Stevie would be the perfect spiritual guide in rock-and-roll heaven. Because of his versatility – and the respect he earned on either side of the Great Divide – I’m sure he could play a great gig with just about anyone, from Robert Johnson to Sid Vicious. Besides, just imagine if he was able to join forces at last with Jimi Hendrix? It would be like this, only even more celestial:

It’s inspiring enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.

So, who would be playing in your Great Gig in the Sky? Let me know, and all the best to you during this Memorial Day weekend.

See you on the flip side.

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