Monday, September 28, 2015

What's Your Legacy?

So a couple of weeks ago my internet was on the fritz for whatever reason so I was listening to the "Light Classical" channel on my cable's Music Choice networks.  Eventually it brought up Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings" which I would embed a YouTube clip of but it probably wouldn't play because you're not supposed to use Flash anymore.  So here's a link to a YouTube video.

Anyway, back in 1999 I was taking "music appreciation" for one of those useless "electives" they make you take so you can give them more money broaden your horizons.  On a CD or whatever the teacher gave us some samples of music and Barber's piece was on there and obviously I remembered hearing it before in Platoon and also episodes of Seinfeld and Daria.  We were assigned to do a report on someone in American music and I thought:  why not do a report on Barber?  Because really, who else was there in 1999:  Backstreet Boys?  Hanson?  Matchbox 20?  I was the only one to do a classical composer, so there.

As part of that I read a biography and some stuff on the Internet, some of which was referenced on the Music Choice thing while the piece was playing.  For instance he won 2 Pulitzer Prizes and an American Prix de Rome--whatever that is, but I assume it's good.  His opera Antony & Cleopatra opened the Met Opera House in New York.  He was also gay by all accounts.  He wrote a bunch of symphonies and operas and so forth.

But you know the only thing he's really remembered for?  "Adagio for Strings."  And only because of that famous scene in Platoon and other TV shows and movies.  That seems really sad to me.  On one hand it's good he's remembered at all, but it kind of says something about the real legacy of artists, which is probably not what they would choose for themselves.  Barber might have actually not liked that piece at all or he might have had one he liked a lot better.

It's the same way for lots of other artists.  I mean think of da Vinci.  All the stuff he did and mostly we remember him for that Dan Brown book--and also the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.  Conversely Dan Brown has written lots of books and he'll probably only be remembered for The da Vinci Code and only because of Tom Hanks's terrible hair in the movie version--or maybe not the last part.

Anyway, the idea is that as an artist you don't necessarily get to choose your legacy.  It'd be great if you remembered me for Where You Belong, my before-its-time look at gay marriage.  More likely if you remember anything at all you'd be like, "Isn't he the guy who wrote all those weird gender swap books?"  Or who knows, maybe some movie director or famous author will reference some obscure book of mine and that's what people would remember me for.  Maybe 50 years from now some college kid will be discussing the symbolism in P.T. Dilloway's Chet Finley vs. the Machines of Fate.

Stranger things have happened.

My master pizza!


  1. You're probably right about your legacy being about the Gender Swap least at the present time. As fast as you write, that could easily change in the next few years.

  2. Odd trivia: from what I understand of how the Church of Satan works, their belief is that there is actually no afterlife (similar to what atheists believe). Rather they insist that one should live a life that creates some kind of legacy so that one is "remembered." Obviously this could be interpreted a variety of ways, but doing shocking and evil acts is usually how someone gains a level of "infamy" and is remembered by all. TL;DR version: I think the Church of Satan has a core belief similar to what you've expressed in that you are responsible for your own afterlife (which is simply to live on in the memories of others).



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