This was a conversation among my friends on Messenger:
Jacob: It’s amazing how the deaths of musicians we listened to in our youth can remind us of our own mortality.
Marie: Yeah, David Bowie, Prince, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston are all gone now.
Marla: I hope I die before Billy Idol or Elton John. But I’m grateful I listen to the “young kids music” and find myself liking it.
I “Liked” the conversation then moved on. But I keep thinking about it. Marie’s list included famous people who died unexpectedly. No one like Merle Haggard, who was older and he was ill for a while, but Haggard only 10 years older than Bowie.
Is it just a matter of taste that her list was made of rock and pop stars? I don’t know Marie so I don’t know her age either.
Is it like Jacob implies, people who listened to an artist in their youths are more affected by their deaths? Are the fans who listened to Merle Haggard fewer these days? Are older people less likely to flock to celebrity homes and make memorials? Are they used to losing their idols?
Is it a famous person’s relative youth that makes them stand out as immortal even after death?
Are famous people more likely to become immortal after death if they die suddenly? Wouldn’t someone who died after a long illness also get sympathy and respect for it, if fans were watching and hoping the person would recover? Celebrity illnesses though, tend to be kept quiet.
Is there something about growing old in the spotlight that changes the way people remember you?
So if there is a “recipe” for becoming immortal in human memory it’s this-
Be famous in the most popular forums of the time: today it’s popular music or movies.
Have fans who have time to devote to watching mainstream TV so that the story of your death stays in the news longer.
Work in an art form that appeals to both old and young.
Be glamorous and sexy.
Die at a younger age preferably while you are still touring, recording or acting.
Die under mysterious circumstances.
It also does not hurt to be wealthy and not leave a will.
Luckily, this is one recipe I will never have to use, and even if I did, I wouldn’t be around to enjoy it. Come to think of it, maybe immortalizing the dead is the job of the living. T here isn’t anything short of building pyramids that you can, or should, do in order to be immortal even if you die.