Monday, March 28, 2005

Life and death

Paul Hester, the drummer from Crowded House, was found dead in a park near his home in Melbourne on Saturday. The news reports don't seem clear on details, so I'm not linking to them. All are saying he'd gone out walking with his dogs and didn't come back. Most are saying that he killed himself. Some have named the dogs. (I put that last bit in because it amuses me. I also think, without any justification whatsoever, it would have amused Mr Hester.)

Whatever the circumstances of his death, it's tragic, and it should be a private matter for his family and friends. On the other hand, those of us who remember Crowded House, or the other bands he was in, had something of him in our own lives, however remote or detached from his actual self that public part of him might have been. I've written previously that Crowded House songs are so tangled up with some years in my life I can hardly remember scenes from that time without also hearing the music. "Don't Dream It's Over" was one of the finest pop songs ever made, in my opinion, and hearing it now takes me back to a specific desk, looking out a specific window, breathing a specific air, and feeling fine. There was something of Paul Hester in that song and in all their songs. His exuberance and stage-presence was so impressive. He looked so damn happy.

I don't know what to say. Maybe he didn't kill himself. Maybe he did. Who can't understand that impulse, the desire to stop being, to just go? I've thought about it, and I bet you have as well. Anyone with any imagination can see that death is always an alternative, until the day that it catches us or we catch it. We should do all we can to avoid chasing it, I think now, unless driven by extraordinary circumstances (extreme illness, say). I wrote about this in an earlier post. But now I just want to add - no offence to Mr Hester, I don't know anything about him - the suicide of someone famous hurts everybody: it's someone we might admire, but they're saying no to life, when most of us need all the encouragement we can get to say yes. It's just so bloody sad.

Sorry about the crassness or whatever (it's an Amazon catalogue...) but if you've never heard or need reminding of what Crowded House sounded like, you can hear bits of tracks from their self-titled album here. It's "Now We're Getting Somewhere" that most reminds me of the public Paul Hester, whacking those drums and dancing. Bless him.