you knew who you were.
Wrote in the beginning of the afternoon. I didn’t have the right words, and I didn’t want to start crying. So I tried again the same night and the day after.
you knew who you were, but I didn’t know you until you were dead. And even now I still don’t even know you, but I know more of you than before. You said you liked people calling you Malcolm, because now you were more mature, and it felt better than Mac. You were starting a new, healthier chapter of your life.
But that’s not the point of this letter.
I don’t really know what is real. Even if I did not know you or your music when you were alive, the grief I felt after listening to your new album and discovering you had died was something I had not felt since realizing in my teens that my grandmother had actually died when I was younger, that is, that I actually was never going to know her, to hear her voice again, that I can barely remember still, that blends with the voices of other old ladies, or to see her face. I feel the same way about you. I am actually never going to see you in the world, physically I mean. You are now dead, in a coffin somewhere, at least your body is, inert forever.
This huge sense of grief, and regret for not listening to you, this sadness coming from the fact that I could never see you live. How can you feel like this if you didn’t know a person? How is that possible?
I am sorry for not caring about you when you were alive. I should have known better than to bury myself in sad french music. You were a part of that generation of millennials that is pushing the boundaries in your field. I truly believe you were the future of music. That’s one of the things that make me angry about all this. It’s like FOMO, but in the future: Everything you would have created, your concerts I would have gone to, your life and career growth I would have witnessed. All of that gone, in an instant. Just as you say in your song:
“ Yeah, nine times out of ten I get it wrong
That’s why I wrote this song, told myself to hold on
I can feel my fingers slippin’, in a mother-fuckin’ instant I’ll be gone“
And you did hold on until you didn’t. That’s what baffles me the most. You were okay, as I understand, for the first time in a long time. A relapse changed your destiny, or the destiny you were creating, the new journey you were starting.
Sometimes, at night, I pray to God that when I wake up you will be alive as if nothing happened, as if it was all just a bad dream. In that world, I would get up, read a stupid, fake story about your ex and wonder who you were, then check out your music on Spotify, and fall in love with it and you, and your personality, just like I did after you died. But this time, I would drop everything and start saving money for your concert, even if you didn’t do it in Italy I would beg my sister to fly out to whatever European location just to see you and listen and watch and overall enjoy your performance, sing the lyrics I already know by heart of your songs at the top of my lungs. But I know that won’t be possible. I know it’s too late, but I’m also grateful for experiencing you, for discovering you, even if it’s only after your death.
The more I think about it, the more I am grateful for your life and everything you built during it. The more I try to understand why God would do this to me, why it always does this to me really, the more I try to find ways to connect your music to others, to discover your musical environment, to try to live a different approach to life than mine, to try to live music through your eyes.
As you said yourself in your tiny desk concert, that I rewatch constantly: “Music… it’s a beautiful thing man.. it’s a beautiful thing”. It truly is, and it’s thanks to it that I can try to become better and mature sentimentally.
Music, in this past couple months, maybe because of school, has become so important to me, even before your passing. Spotify says I listened to music 105 % more than last year. And I’ll continue to do so.
If your death has taught me anything, it’s that I can’t keep living in my small world and not explore other realities.
For you, Malcolm, I will continue to try to discover new music, expand my musical horizons. I will continue to learn about you and your life, to not make your mistakes, to learn from them for you, too, to discover new people, and maybe go to their concerts as if they were yours. Your passion for music has really inspired me and it’s something that I’ll cherish forever.
This is the only way for me to feel and understand that one day this will all make sense, even if it doesn’t today. I will be able to move on and to feel better.
Goodbye Malcolm. I look forward to meeting you up there or in another life.