“Blackbird,” Dave Grohl, And The Things We Rarely Speak Of
By Chris Palmer, M.A.
I was watching Dave Grohl playing “Blackbird” at the Oscars on YouTube just now.
He did such a beautiful — and in some ways haunting — version of that classic song. A deliberately darkened stage, with his acoustic guitar and unmistakably human voice, as the screen shared pictures of so many people who passed last year.
It was overwhelming to me.
Maybe it was the bittersweet beauty of the melody, played darker somehow because of Dave’s humanness.
Or the seemingly endless series of pictures of so many actors I have known since childhood.
And so many I haven’t.
It reminded me of my parents watching shows like this, years ago, and welling up over the loss of people like Jimmy Stewart and Humphrey Bogart.
And then it hit me. This is how we live our lives.
We do so many things everyday. We fill up every minute of every day with everything — anything — except talking about the one thing that rips us so deeply that we can hardly hang on.
I get it. Who really wants to talk about dying?
But it seems that something so overwhelming and agonizing is worth a moment from time to time.
We all love. And deeply.
And over our lifetimes we all tend to connect to a handful of people in such a meaningful way that their passing feels like someone took part of us too.
Like part of us is missing, broken.
And no matter how we try to repair it — repair us — nothing completely works. Because each time we connect, each time we love, it’s like a fingerprint on our souls.
And nothing matches.
So we all walk around partly broken forever.
We can grieve and repair and in so many ways move on.
But the indelible mark of that fingerprint — that soul print — it just reminds us of the incredible absence.
For the record, I hate that we can have something as gifted and miraculous and overwhelming as the love between people; and then all of us — without exception — are ripped apart from each other, one by one. It is life’s greatest cruelty, and no amount of faith entirely protects us from that pain.
So as the dark melodies of Dave Grohl’s acoustic guitar play “Blackbird” so solemnly in my mind one more time, I am struck by the enormity of this moment.
In an instant, everything happens.
I just felt like that needed to be said, a kind of bittersweet acknowledgment of the things we rarely speak of, yet feel in the tears that well up as that acoustic guitar gently plays one more time.
And despite every ounce of dislike I have for the seeming agonies we all share, I am overwhelmed with a flow of appreciation for the gift of any of it and all of it.
This remarkably brief and mysterious existence is so overwhelmingly full of life and love. Like my heart could explode in my chest if I could ever feel it all in one moment.
Maybe the song says it best:
“Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see.
All your life.
You were only waiting for this moment to be free…”
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