This exchange was enlightening, an honest and skeptical commenter stopped by and offered the following:
“I stumbled onto this site while researching John Denver’s death. While perusing several blog posts here, I noticed that it is common to question the authenticity of song writers. Why is this? Why suggest that ghost writers have more writing talent than the person who made the song famous? Also, don’t you guys realize that people actually do take drugs, abuse alcohol, and then suffer the consequences? Why is every celebrity death a hoax? Frankly, it isn’t possible for the required number of people involved to hide all the evidence of these so-called faked deaths. ‘Two can keep a secret, but only of one is dead.'”
That last line is often used as an excuse for extreme credulity, often expressed as “someone would have talked.” And indeed, someone usually talks. In the case of John Denver’s death, it was me. But who listens? Certainly not this commenter. He does not mean me. He is really saying “someone with authority would speak.” But who would report the words? Anyone in media? Anyone wanting to publish a book? Such energy is blocked. Someone always speaks, but the words never get repeated in our controlled media. It is always only lonely voices.
Americans only listen to voices of authority, ignore all others, and rarely think for themselves. They imagine their thoughts are their own even as they are merely parroting the supplied voices of power.
For me, I get to know stuff. I have seen things, uncovered them on my own. And yet the following words by George Kennan resonate:
“The best he can look forward to is the lonely pleasure of one who stands at long last on the chilly and inhospitable mountain top where few have been before, where few can follow, and where few will consent to believe he has been.”
That may sound a little self-enamoring, but it does describe my attitude about the work we have done here over the past years. Just with John Denver, I spent a whole summer, off and on, made phone calls, sent away for autopsy reports and even called the manufacturer of his supposed death-trap plane. Most difficult was the thinking … hours upon hours, awake and emerging from slumber, trying to understand. Yet if I mention the results of this work, my studied conclusion that Denver faked his death, my 7,500 word essay, I get an instant shrug of disbelief and some wonderment about my mental state. It is not satisfying in that regard. The rewards have to be me (almost) alone on that mountaintop.
Anyway, I answered the critic, Greg Maxwell, and put some effort into it, as his question was honest and his curiosity genuine. I did some revisions as I wanted my thoughts to be clearly stated. Here it is, such as it is:
“Regarding song writing, it is simple logic – the ability to perform, and also to be attractive, and to play musical instruments are all indeed rare traits when combined. Add to that song writing ability, and it is a perfect storm. It is far more likely that, given what we have found about aristocratic roots of most famous people, pop and rock stars are recruited from within the ranks of peerage, trained, hyped, and given their music to perform and told to pretend they wrote it. Those who write the music are also gifted, but are more likely less attractive and unable to perform and draw attention that way, though musical training and ability with instruments is a likely presence … thus I presume that “Yesterday,” a song far too complex for a young man with no musical training to write, came from some one like (or some group including) George Martin, classically trained and very talented. That is but one example. There was some heavy talent behind the Beatles writing that music. And anyway, if McCartney wrote Yesterday, which one? There were two of them, twins.
Most of the deaths that I have investigated just don’t add up. Yes, they do hype drug and alcohol abuse, but I find that often to be nothing more than predictive programming. Janis Joplin, for instance, not terribly talented (also a set of twins), was set to have a brief career, and so was said to be a crazy addict and alcoholic. Far more likely she was more stable in her habits, as she (they) lives to this day as Amy Goodman, and appears healthy. Why do they fake their deaths? We speculate they are given assignments … music, like any other aspect of our system of control, is not free enterprise, but rather guided and used to control youth. During Vietnam, there was an huge push from above to control the breakout of free thought and skepticism that accompanied war protest, so that scores of fake musicians made their way to LA* to become famous on meager talent and “lead” the protest movement. After the (fake) Manson affair effectively ended the Vietnam War protests, there was less need for musicians, and they were slowly “killed” off, that is, reassigned or retired to more mundane lives. A few, say John Denver, possessed of real abilities (though I doubt he wrote his own stuff) were allowed to carry on, though at age 53 Denver was pretty much used up, so that his fake death was used to recharge his body of work, generating new sales totaling, we are told, $33 million or more. Fake deaths like his, Prince, Elvis, Karen Carpenter and others, are also used to spike sales, as even trash (in Denver’s case) can be recycled and sold to honor the dead icon.”
Regarding genuine talent, it does exist. I am going to spend some time today and tomorrow writing about a man whom I believe to have been possessed of real existential skill, a genuine diamond in the rough, a man who excelled at comedy, acting, producing, and who also had some (ghosted) musical abilities behind him. That part is a puzzle, just as Maxwell suggests … why did not the real talent step forward? Why was Jackie Gleason given the spotlight and allowed to pretend to be a composer and musical director? Maybe writing it out will uncover the answer.
*John Denver among them.