In August Aretha Franklin died.
That week the Indian state of Kerala saw the deadliest floods in nearly a century as a tangle of human hands clawed at the earth and opened the dams and the rivers lost their way to the sea.
On the other side of the coin, California roared with fires that reduced everything to ashes all month long.
These were the three things the Goblin heard, coming to her ears muffled through sleep deprivation and the crash of crockery and her failing hearing.
Aretha Franklin didn’t leave a will, the headlines shouted accusingly.
But she left us so many beautiful sounds. Maybe she didn’t think we deserved anything else from her. Maybe she brushed her palms together and thought, you had my teenage body for children, you had my voice to line your pockets, you watched my weight and whispered my private life into the bottom of a bottle. You don’t get to have anymore.
WFMU DJ Sheila B dedicates a show to the female musicians who lived with, and sometimes died from, addictions. The artist as a commodity, controlled by their handlers, used up by the industry. The women who dulled the edges and the corners and filled the cracks of living with prescription and non-prescription drugs and alcohol. The Goblin considers how we often lionise addiction in our artists but will not tolerate it in our friends, our families, our communities.
”There are so many hours in the day.” She tells herself sitting and staring at empty white rectangles she promised herself she’d fill. Her mind comes apart like wet paper. “I’m wasting my time.” She thinks as she lies down and does not sleep.
Above all things and forever, she can hear Aretha sing.