The recent anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix got me thinking about our relationships with our cultural idols. I mean, they might not know us (ya ya ya, especially the dead ones), but we feel we know them and emotions are involved, so it is a relationship, right?
Anyway the annual barrage of “remembering Jimi” stuff that floated across the net (you know: Jimi didn’t die, God just wanted guitar lessons) reminded me that I have a very uneasy relationship to this particular hero of mine.
Idolize him? Sure. But the awe is mixed with healthy doses of resentment and guilt. Guilt because I don’t accept as an article of faith that Hendrix was the best ever guitarist. Resentment, because I always felt he could have been if he had, had, had … well not tried harder exactly, and, well not really been more disciplined, but maybe been more judicious.
More guilt because I understand if he’d been less of a free spirit then the brilliance would not have manifested itself. Resentment because it wasn’t all brilliant, sometimes it was kinda sloppy. More guilt because you’re not supposed to feel that way about cultural icons of his stature. Mustn’t criticize.
And a little more resentment because he offed himself too soon and should have given us so much more. And a little more guilt because that’s kinda a selfish.
But in the end, I always try to push all that bunk aside and just remember that he was someone to love.
Complex enough for a real relationship, isn’t it?