When Warren Zevon began work on The Wind, he knew it would be his last album. Zevon was diagnosed with cancer early; unfortunately, nothing could be done. Fortunately, he used his remaining time on earth to give us a great album. Knowing it was his last chance to say something made each line more poignant.
Most of us don’t have advance notice of impending death. We know it will happen someday, but the day, month, even year are uncertain at best. Most of us don’t get the chance to craft our last words. Or do we?
The sad fact is, every artist will have a parting shot. As I have said before, I hope Bob Dylan outlives us all, but there will come a day when he’s booked his last recording session. What will come of that music? Will it be especially meaningful? Will it be a continuation of whatever aspect he was exploring up to that point? Or will it be a sharp departure?
Buddy Holly didn’t have a head’s up from the Reaper. 50 years ago the world was left with what he hadn’t yet finished. The Apartment Tapes stand as the only glimpse we’ll ever get into Holly’s future recording plans. They are excellent, but they are finite.
George Herriman, cartoonist extraordinaire, died with a week’s worth of Krazy Kat dailies sitting at his desk. Some are nearly complete, some merely pencil sketches. I wonder if he was having a good week up until he died. If given the choice, would he have wanted to finish off that batch? Or would he have preferred to let another week stand in as his last words to the public?
This is all very morbid. I’m sorry. Allow me one final thought.
According to one website, my death will occur in exactly 47 years, 10 months, 23 days. (I was surprised at how soon I’m expected to go. Maybe I should move away from this nuclear waste storage facility.) I know the exact number of days because it’s on my Google homepage (right above the weather and NASA’s Image of the Day).
When I get Falling Rock syndicated, I’m going to begin work on the final week’s worth right away. That way I can tinker with it for a long time. Crafting my final message will be difficult, epecially if I’m in my 20’s when I start. Hopefully by the time I’m 77 I’ll have it all worked out.
Of course I’ll have to make changes as technology evolves. I expect to incorporate a few hover cars and a Mars colony in my final comics. Stay tooned! Who knows what wacky hijinks those desert critters will get up to in the future.