The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 964: Musicians battling disease, part 2

In the old days before the internet, musicians had an aura of mystique about them. We only knew what they wanted us to know or what music writers could ferret out. It was an era of secrets and personal information that was kept quiet.

Now, though, things are different. Because of social media and our always-on culture, information and digital smog are everywhere. Artists have never given up as much personal information as they do today, both voluntarily and involuntarily. Too much info, sometimes.

Fans love this. But at the same time, we don’t want our heroes to be life-sized. The reason we admire them in the first place is that they seem to operate on a higher plane than normal people like us. They have a special talent that affects us not just emotionally, but often spiritually and physically. What, then, do we make of things when we hear our favourite artist is human and fallible like the rest of us and suffer from health problems? I’ve seen two reactions.

One is disbelief that they’re mortal. We’re shocked that they don’t have some kind of superpowers that keep them free from sickness and disease? That’s sometimes hard to accept.

The second reaction is that such challenges humanize them. We learn that they’re just like the rest of us and perhaps we can relate. Such knowledge may intensify our relationship with that artist. And if the artist is open and honest about their condition(s), it can be inspiring. Maybe by talking about what they’re facing, they can help other people facing the same challenges. This, I think, is the real value of the personal health information they share.

Here is part two of a program featuring musicians who have had to deal with disease.

Songs heard on this show:

    • Imagine Dragons, Believer
    • Ramones, Teenage Lobotomy
    • Alt-J, Left Hand Free
    • Nirvana, Breed
    • Tragically Hip, Courage
    • Blink-182, All the Small Things
    • Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK
    • Spirit of the West, Home for a Rest
    • Fountains of Wayne, Stacey’s Mom

Here’s Eric Wilhite’s playlist. The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:


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