With the passing of Damon Harris, 62, Richard Street, 70 and Bobby Rogers, 73, all within a couple of weeks of each other, another marker in time has hit me across the noggin.
You may not remember Harris or Street. They started singing with The Temptations in 1971. Of the original Temptations -- David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams, only Otis still walks this earth.
You may not recognize the name Bobby Rogers, but he was a Motown standout with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. He shared writing credits for Motowns first million-selling song, Shop Around. He also aided The Temptations career by writing, The Way You Do The Things You Do.
All good things do pass.
They say were only TDY here, but I grew up listening to these guys. Papa Was A Rollin Stone, released in 1972, won three Grammy Awards in 1973. It was a 12-minute long classic and was named one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Harris and Street were on that record. Thats right, record. Ask someone in the younger generation about a record and youre sure to get a funny look. Watch them laugh when you show them one of the 12-inch black vinyl discs.
Today, I still wonder if the lyrics, Papa was a rollin stone/Wherever he laid his hat was his home/And when he died, all he left us was alone, meant alone or was it a loan. Both are applicable.
The Temptations started heading down a different musical road in 1969 with the release of Cloud Nine. I remember not liking the change one bit. I like the My Girl Temptations, but those days were gone. After Cloud Nine came Psychedelic Shack and then All Directions the album Papa Was A Rollin Stone called home.
Rogers, Harris and Street arent the first artist I grew up with to die, but many of them died in plane crashes -- Otis Redding, Jim Croce and Ricky Nelson or were victims of their own excesses -- Chet Baker, Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Elvis, but few in my memory lived to old age and died of natural causes.
The words of the poet Curtis Mayfield, If Theres A Hell Below, Were All Gonna Go, comes to mind. It reminds me that the clock is ticking for everyone and that the old saw, the only sure things are death and taxes, is accurate.
Matters little if youre a musician, lawyer, famed physician or just plain Joe Blow. The clock is ticking on all of us at a different pace. When I was younger, the ticking was faint. I could hardly hear or feel it. Now, the ticking and its vibrations are everywhere and the deaths of people I grew up listening to further amplify it.
Looking through the obituaries of the great and small hits me particularly hard when I see an obit of a person younger than me.
I dont begrudge getting older, I just dont like the side effects.
The complications of age are similar to those pills we see pushed on TV that say it can cure everything from skin disease to impotence, but the potential health risks seem to outweigh the cure.
Yes, my hair is grayer. My gait is not quite as quick.
The things I used to do without thinking take me a moment now, but would I take a pill to make those symptoms disappear if it risked heart disease or stroke?
I used to hop over small fences with hardly a care. I could almost dunk a basketball when I was 12 years old. Now, I watch Mercer students pass by my office window. There is about a two-foot high wall from the sidewalk to my level and students hop it without a care. Me? Aint no way.
Im resigned to the fact that people I grew up with will eventually pass on -- and for a time -- Ill keep on keeping on, but there will be a day when the suite music plays for me. I just hope that when Im gone someone will remember a song or two that Ive sung.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at (478)744-4342 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Tweet@crichard1020.