Live Fast, Die Young

Lana Del Rey, who was “Born to Die,” . . .

. . . was recently quoted in The Guardian saying:

I wish I was dead already. . . . That’s just how I feel. If it wasn’t that way, then I wouldn’t say it. I would be scared if I knew [death] was coming, but . . .'”

Del Rey has already outlived the influences she was discussing, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse. Both are members of the exclusive “27 Club,” which Del Rey aged out of when she turned 28 last month.

It’s no surprise that Frances Bean Cobain would have a very different point of view on dead rock stars:

The death of young musicians isn’t something to romanticize. I’ll never know my father because he died young, and it becomes a desirable feat because people like you think it’s ‘cool.’ Well, it’s fucking not. Embrace life, because you only get one life. The people you mentioned wasted that life. Don’t be one of those people. You’re too talented to waste it away.”*

Yet it’s hard to argue with the fact that death can be a “smart career move,” as was said after Elvis Presley’s death turned the popular but fading rock star into a very successful industry. The mordant aphorism evolved into “good career move” as it was applied to numerous later celebrity deaths.

Although introduced in Willard Motley’s 1947 novel, Knock on Any Door (later made into a Nicholas Ray/Humphrey Bogart film) . . .

IMG_0001        IMG_0002

. . . the motto “Live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse” is most often associated with James Dean. I doubt 24 year old Dean’s corpse looked very good after he crashed his Porsche 550 Spyder in 1955:

His funeral was closed-casket.

Now the “live fast, die young” slogan has been revived for the #YOLO generation in songs by M.I.A. . . .

. . . Ke$ha . . .

. . . and satirized by The Lonely Island:

Does any generation want to become its parents? Better to “hope I die before I get old”?

* Del Rey responded that she was taken out of context:

It’s all good. He was asking me a lot about your dad. I said I liked him because he was talented, not because he died young. The other half of what I said wasn’t really related to the people he mentioned. I don’t find that part of music glam either.”

She later added, “I regret trusting the Guardian.”


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