Since the passing of my mother, there has been two songs echoing through me. The first is Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” and the other is from the movie, “Avengers: Endgame” and entitled, “The Real Hero” composed by Alan Silvestri.
I don’t think there’s anyone who doesn’t know the story behind “Tears in Heaven” and in case you didn’t know, Clapton wrote that song after the tragic death of his young son. I watched his MTV Unplugged performance when it aired and as he and his guys performed “Tears in Heaven,” I was… in awe of the man and that he could perform a song that so much reminded him of his son’s death and the Unplugged version had me in tears – you could feel the emotion in the song and in his voice as he sang.
This was the first song that popped into my head upon hearing of my mother’s death, followed by “The Real Hero.” If you’ve not seen “Avengers: Endgame,” the song actually appears twice in the movie, once – and in part – during the opening scenes and at the moment Tony Stark died after swiping the Infinity Stones from Thanos and snapping him and his army out of existence.
Had tears in my eyes seeing that part of the movie but the song itself speak of sorrow and hope as well as a sense of what it means to commit one’s self to the ultimate sacrifice. Dr. Strange had told Tony that there was one chance in 14 million to defeat Thanos and, at one point in the movie, he told Stark that if he told him what that chance was now, it would never happen.
Then everything comes to a head… and Dr. Strange looks at Tony and slowly raises one finger… and Tony knew what he had to do. And did what he had to do even though it was the one thing he didn’t want to do.
Pretty heroic stuff and the song by Silvestri embodies it… and is fitting as I remember the hero my mother was to me and even more so when I think about how she faced death with a strength, resolve, and utter fearlessness.
The musician in me loves these two pieces of music. I’ve always liked Clapton’s music and it’s fascinated me that a guy with a very British accent can sing without any trace of that accent in his vocals… and his skill and virtuosity with the guitar is unmatched by few. He performed on Phil Collins’ “Let It Rain Down On Me” and his licks, which opened the song, wow. Just fucking wow. Such emotion in those opening measures, followed by Collins’ vocals, the rest of the musical performance – the bass line is deep and the drum parts – which I took great joy in being able to perform myself – just adds to the soulfulness of the song.
And, yeah, it was the third song that flowed through my mind during this time of grief.
Silvestri and the London Symphony Orchestra performed “The Real Hero” – he did all of the music for all of the Avengers movies. Strings and French horns just reach out and tug on your heart right from the beginning – well, if you like orchestral music. The song starts playing in my head – or I open the playlist I have this song in (available on Apple Music if you got it like that) – and I see the ending scenes of the movie and the two of them together running in my mind just touches my soul – and that was way before all of this happened to my mother.
It’s the last song in this particular playlist and I placed it there deliberately even though I’ve added songs to this playlist; the playlist opens with Eugie Groove’s “In Love With You” and continues with an… odd collection of songs set in a particular and specific order to evoke differing emotions; love, happiness, thoughtfulness, and unabashed toe-tapping and dancing like no one’s watching – and singing. This playlist is a rollercoaster ride of musical fun and ends with the heart-rending soulfulness of “The Real Hero” and a reminder that while all things must end, there is still hope remaining and that the cycle of life continues on…
Plus that playlist is set to repeat itself. In this period of grief, these two songs are… fitting. The first – “Tears in Heaven” – speaks to how I’m feeling about all of this while the second – “The Real Hero” – speaks to my memories of my mother and how she faced the things in her life and stood tall and strong even when life threw a lot of bad things her way.
They are, in a way, my songs in the key of life.