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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Legends' Last Songs and Epitaphs

Have you ever wondered what songs the legends sang just before they die? Did they feel that something was going wrong and the end was getting closer? These are impossible questions since we can never know if Lennon was whistling any of his latest songs while he was walking towards the apartment Dakota or Cobain singing anything just before he pulled the trigger... etc. But at least, we can follow the clues and reveal their psychlogical situations the day they died and this may help us to learn much about them.

You Know You Are Right - Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
(February 20, 1967 - April 5, 1994)

Curt CObain

Kurt wrote this song as a sarcastic reference to his wife Courtney Love, at a very turbulent time in their relationship (shortly before his suicide), the title and predominant lyric: "you know your right" and also "nothing really bothers her, she just wants to love herself", both refer to Kurt's frustration with Courtney.

On April 8, 1994, Cobain's body was discovered at his Lake Washington home. A suicide note was found that said, "I haven't felt the excitement of listening to as well as creating music, along with really writing . . . for too many years now" with a shotgun pointing at his chin. A high concentration of heroin and traces of Valium were also found in his body.

Since the group recorded the song when they had some spare time one weekend, it went unreleased after Cobain suddenly died.

A Change is Gonna Come - Sam Cooke
(January 22, 1931 - December 11, 1964)

Sam Cooke

Cooke was deeply affected by the death of his infant son, who drowned in a swimming pool in 1963. He started writing more introspective songs and took an interest in black history and politics.

The song was released as a single a few months after Cooke died. He was shot by a motel owner who claimed he was raping a young girl in one of the rooms. A lot of controversy surrounded his death; Cooke owned his own record label and publishing company, and some people thought he was killed as part of a plot.

"There been times that I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will"

Voodo Child - Jimi Hendrix
(November 27, 1942 - September 18, 1970)

Jimmy Hendrix

This was the last song Hendrix performed live. On September 6, 1970, which was 12 days before his death, he played it at a concert in Germany.

Hendrix's last public performance was an informal jam at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in Soho with Burdon and his latest band, War.

Early on September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix died in London in a Hotel under the circumstances which have never been fully explained.

Redemption Song - Bob Marley
(February 6, 1945 - May 11, 1981)

Bob Marley

Marley completed his last album in the summer of 1980. He was suffering from the cancer that would eventually kill him at age 36, but was very productive in his later years. He refused traditional medicine because of his Rastafarian beliefs and chose to make music and perform as long as he could.

This was the last song Marley performed. He sang it from a stool at a show in Pittsburgh on September 23, 1980.

"Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom? -
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;"

Mercedes Benz - Janis Joplin
(January 19, 1943 - October 4, 1970)

Janis Joplin

The last recordings Joplin completed were "Mercedes Benz" and a birthday greeting for John Lennon ("Happy Trails", composed by Dale Evans) on October 1, 1970. On Saturday, October 3, Joplin visited the Sunset Sound Studios in Los Angeles to listen to the instrumental track for Nick Gravenites' song "Buried Alive In The Blues" prior to recording the vocal track and scheduled for the next day.

She failed to show up at the studio by Sunday afternoon, producer Paul Rothchild became concerned. Full Tilt Boogie's road manager, John Cooke, drove to the Landmark Motor Hotel (since renamed the Highland Gardens Hotel) where Joplin had been a guest since August 24. He saw Joplin's psychedelically painted Porsche still in the parking lot. Upon entering her room, he found her dead on the floor. The official cause of death was an overdose of heroin, possibly combined with the effects of alcohol.

To Live is To Die/Anesthesia Pulling Teeth - Cliff Burton (Metallica)
(February 10, 1962 - September 27, 1986)

Cliff Burton

Fresh from their triumphant UK tour, Metallica had headed once more for Scandinavia where they'd played three shows at the Olympen in Lund (September 24, 1986), the Skedsmohallen (September 25, 1986) in Oslo and at the Sonahallen in Stockholm (September 26, 1986). The last song of Cliff Burton was also his latest solo bass performance "Anesthesia Pulling Teeth" in the concert. It was approaching dawn on Saturday, the 27th of September 1986, and Metallica's two tour buses were on their way to do a fourth show in Copenhagen. The were traveling along a god forsaken road between the Scandinavian cities of Stockholm and Copenhagen. Apart from these vehicles, the route was deserted, there was no one else traveling at that early hour of the morning. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, just before dawn, at about 5:15 am, one of the coaches swerved violently to its right and started careening wildly down the wrong side of the road. It was out of control, and a crash was inevitable. Cliff Burton was thrown through the window of the bus, which fell on top of him causing his death.

Swedish police arriving on the scene of the accident immediately arrested the driver as a matter of routine. They later released him without charging him after further investigation revealed that the cause of the accident was black ice on a nasty bend in the road.

James Hetfield later stated that he first believed the bus flipped because the driver was drunk, claiming he had smelled alcohol on the driver's breath after the accident. Hetfield also stated that he himself had walked long distances down the road looking for black ice and had found none. Local freelance photographer, Lennart Wennberg, who had attended the scene of the crash the following morning, when later asked in an interview about the likelihood of black ice being the cause of the accident said that it was 'out of the question', stating that the road had been dry and the temperature around zero degrees Celsius. This was also confirmed by the police who also found no ice on the road.

"To live is to die" is a tribute to Metallica's bassist Cliff Burton. It is instrumental except the spoken word piece near the end - this was a poem that Cliff wrote before he died.

When a man lies he murders
Some part of the world
These are the pale deaths
Which men miscall their lives
All this I cannot bear To witness any longer
Cannot the kingdom of salvation
Take me home

The Best is Yet to Come - Frank Sinatra
(December 12, 1915 - May 14, 1998)

Frank Sinatra

Sinatra's final public concerts were held in Japan's Fukuoka Dome in December 1994. The following year, on February 25, 1995, at a private party for 1,200 select guests on the closing night of the Frank Sinatra Desert Classic golf tournament, Sinatra sang before a live audience for the very last time. His closing song was "The Best is Yet to Come."

After suffering heart attack, Frank Sinatra died at 10:50 pm on May 14, 1998 at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, with his wife Barbara by his side. He was 82 years old and Sinatra's final words, spoken as attempts were made to stabilize him, were "I'm losing."

The words The Best Is Yet to Come are imprinted on Sinatra's tombstone. But one of his songs "My way" soon became the most requested song by men to be played at their funerals.

Walking On Thin Ice - John Lennon
(9 October 1940 - 8 December 1980)

John Lennon

On the night of 8 December 1980, at around 10:49 p.m., Mark David Chapman shot Lennon in the back four times in the entrance of the Dakota and Lennon died immediately on the event scene.

The last song of his own that John ever recorded was "I Don't Wanna Face It," recorded on September 2nd but never fully finished by John; it appears on the CD Milk and Honey. The last song Lennon played on was probably Yoko's "Walking On Thin Ice," which appears on her album Season Of Glass; he was working on it at the time of his death. The last recordings he ever made at home, however, were four new songs recorded as demos at his Dakota residence on November 14th. Two, "Pop Is The Name Of The Game" and "You Saved My Soul," have never been officially released. The other two, "Dear John" and "Serve Yourself," were released on 1998's Lennon Anthology.. The lyrics of "Dear John" consist mainly of this verse:

Dear John,
don't be hard on yourself.
Give yourself a break.
Life wasn't meant to be run.
The race is over, you've won.

Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain - Elvis Presley
(January 8, 1935 - August 16, 1977)

Elvis Presley

Presley's final performance was in Indianapolis at the Market Square Arena, on June 26, 1977. According to many of his entourage who accompanied him on tour, it was the "best show he had given in a long time" with "some strong singing".

Another tour was scheduled to begin August 17, 1977, but at Graceland the day before, Presley was found on his bathroom floor by fiancée, Ginger Alden. According to the medical investigator, Presley had "stumbled or crawled several feet before he died"; he had apparently been using the toilet at the time. Death was officially pronounced at 3:30 pm at the Baptist Memorial Hospital.

Although Elvis appeared pale, weak, and overweight, as he had with increasing regularity, there was nothing to suggest his impending death -- indeed, there was nothing unusual about his show on the tour, except that Elvis for some reason introduced practically everyone from his life on stage that night. Some take this as "proof" Elvis knew he was in his final days; others maintain that he was worried about the imminent publication of Elvis: What Happened?, a tell-all biography by former bodyguards Sonny and Red West that publicly broke the story of his drug abuse, and what those revelations might do to his image.

The last recording Elvis made was a vocal overdub on "He'll Have To Go" on October 31st, 1976 in the "Jungle Room" at his home at Graceland.

The last song Elvis performed in private was a rendition of "Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain," on his piano in Graceland hours before his death.

In the twilight glow I seen her
Blue eyes crying in the rain
When we kissed goodbye and parted
I knew we'd never meet again
Love is like a dying ember
And only memories remain
And through the ages I'll remember

Blue eyes crying in the rain

A Winter's Tale/Mother Love - Freddie Mercury (Queen)
(5 September 1946 - 24 November 1991)

Freddie Mercury

October 8th 1991 was the last time Freddie Mercury performed on stage. At the time, he was terribly ill with AIDS, although he didn't want people to know about it. He announced that fact the day before he died. Being ill he continued to compose and record songs and even took part in making videos (ex: "I'm Going Slightly Mad" video)

On November 24th, 1991 Freddie died peacefully at his home in London of AIDS-related bronchial pneumonia.

"A Winter's tale" and "Mother Love" was the two songs he cannot find time to complete recordings. Queen guitarist Brian May in the name of the band Queen sang the rest of the lyrics and published in Queen's 1995 album "Made in Heaven".

Freddie mercury did not officially have a grave. He was cremated and the whereabouts of his ashes remains a mystery. It has been said that they are buried under the cherry tree in his garden, at garden lodge. It has also been said that they were scattered at Lake Geneva, a place where Freddie had an apartment, and a place where he found great peace.

My body's aching, but I can't sleep
My dreams are all the company I keep
Got such a feeling as the sun goes down
I'm coming home to my sweet -
Mother love



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