Frey's death comes quickly on the heels of the passing of splendid actor Alan Rickman (age 69) on Jan. 14; of influential singer David Bowie (age 69) on Jan. 10; and of silky-voiced singer Natalie Cole (age 65) on Dec. 31 (which might as well be January).
Suddenly, it seems, we can barely process the death of one artist before we are learning of the death of another. It's almost too much.
These four were all in their 60s — my age — and each succumbed to health issues pretty much beyond anyone's control, thus reinforcing the notion of how random life and death really are. Especially death.
But it also got me to wondering about the nature of celebrity and why these deaths are somehow so meaningful to us. As evidence, Facebook lit up with clips of Space Oddity, Hans Gruber and Peaceful Easy Feeling.
And then it became a little clearer to me — it's not their celebrity that impacts us so much, it's their art.
What might seem like a catchy tune with clever lyrics on one level might actually be a highway to reach us on another, deeper intellectual or emotional level; a sympatico of expression between artist and audience. We are all made of the same stardust, so it stands to reason that we – artists and audience – share the same instincts and rhythms of the universe.
Artists interpret, the audience absorbs and then interprets the artist. What sticks becomes meaningful, whether it's a song, a lyric, a painting, an essay, a photograph, a script delivered with panache and pathos.
It's all art; it's all about us, really.
And when an artist passes, a little bit of us does, too.