In May of 1990 I was 18. Just over half a year out of high school and on my way into the world as an adult. This was the month Jim Henson died. The Muppet Show had shaped part of who I was creatively. I still have visions of Leo Sayer dancing with the enormous bird. The Mummenschanz pulling each other's paper faces and the guy who did the pick-a-sausage-any-sausage with Sam The Eagle. I loved it. Funny, creative, silly. I slowly over time discovered who Jim Henson was and how it was his vision that guided the show and the everything Muppets. Then he died. It was the first time I'd felt a loss for someone I didn't know. For someone I'd never met. But someone who had influenced me immensely.
Later that year I discovered a band called Jellyfish. They were like nothing around in the '90s. Sunny happy pop-rock album called Bellybutton. It had an album cover that was a naked woman covered in Aim toothpaste with the tiny band members playing the in the plastic flowers around her navel. I loved the hell out of that album. A couple years later they came out with Spilt Milk. I bought the album and went directly home, put on a pair of headphones and listened to the album 3 times in a row (It was easy 'cause my tape deck had an auto flip feature so I didn't have to get up to turn the cassette over). Spilt milk starts with a lullaby, spikes the punch at an elementary school, has a Greek dinner in the middle and ends with a big parade. Then they broke up and never made another song together. These two albums shaped my appreciation for music for the next couple of decades and inspired me to write my own music. But once again a feeling of loss for people I never knew. For people I'd never met.
That was my kid years, teen years and twenties. Then, in my thirties I bought an iPod. Then a Mac Mini. Then an iPod touch. Then a Macbook Pro. Then an iPhone. Then an iPhone 4. Then and Apple TV. They all worked together seamlessly. It seemed like everything I wanted to do ... these devices just did for me. I didn't have to troll sites for shareware or fuss with a registry to get my printer to work. I could share family photos and home movies on the TV in my living room. I could connect with and share photos with my friends through my phone and it all just felt right.
I had slowly learned who Steve Jobs was over all these purchases. I learned what he meant to the creativity and vision behind all the devices that were allowing me to create music demos and edit home movies. He was an enigma and each story about him seemed to speak to a man who had a vision and a plan about how to make a dent in the universe. Then he died and I never met him and I never knew him. But he affected the way I look at things and how they could be if I just, do it.
I still love the Muppet Show and I often listen to the Jellyfish albums and I'll get an iPhone 5 when it's announced. But Kermit don't sound quite right anymore and the solo stuff by the Jellyfish members never really hit the spot. So, I'm a little scared that eventually my Mac will still be great but it will have a new voice that doesn't quite sound right.
I guess it's time to take everything my heroes have taught me and seriously put them to work in my own creative projects.