I now get to share one of the worst experiences of my life.
A friend of mine, Gene Hawkins, was the lead singer of a DC-based band called Lucy Brown. I saw them in DC before I moved to NYC, and they moved to NYC right around the time I did independently of me.
I got to see them rise from a show where I was the only spectator in Staten Island to breaking the attendance record for their record release party at The Limelight, to getting caught up in label politics and failing.
I then saw them continue to try. I saw them put on a show in NYC and the whole old gang was out. We rocked, the band we loved was back, it was like a new beginning.
Two weeks later I got a phone call. Gene died of an overdose of cocaine and heroin.
I made the trip from NYC to DC to go to the funeral. Gene was raised in a strict Baptist household, not uncommon for a young black man in DC. His mom was actively involved in the church.
The pastor, a woman, was doing the eulogy. The first words out of her mouth was, “I know a lot of you people here have not been in a church in a long time, so I’m going to take advantage of this situation.”
She proceeded at one point to continue to tell us all about how, if we continued to live like Gene, we would wind up like him. She even pointed to the coffin at this point.
I was horrified.
It took the respect for Gene’s parents to not walk out in the middle of it all. Many agreed with me, but nobody walked for the same reasons.
I was going to write her a nasty (yet respectful) letter, but the surviving bandmates told me that the service was “for his mom,” and to let it go. So I did.
It didn’t change the fact that I was morally outraged at this. A eulogy is supposed to speak of the deceased. This person didn’t even know the deceased.
I guess, if I am going to correlate this to the thread, I would say that if you are a person of faith and you have someone new there, do what you would normally do.
On the bright side, I was in Memphis and I went out of my way to see Al Green (yes, THE Al Green!) preach and sing. It was amazing, and he treated us tourist types perfectly.
“Some people come here to hear me preach. Others want me to sign an album. Some just want to hear me sing… Well, that’s exactly what I’m a-gonna do!”
And sing he did…