R.I.P., Aretha Franklin: Why Some Celebrity Deaths Hit Us So Much Harder Than Others (Podcast)

Every life is equal. But some deaths — like Franklin’s — stay with us

aretha franklin

The death of Aretha Franklin got us thinking: Why do some celebrity deaths — the passings of people we never personally knew — hit us so hard? Sometimes we mourn musical and screen icons almost like people we knew in real life.

That’s the subject of the new “Low Key” podcast, where Keith Dennie, Aaron Lanton and I talk about pop culture subjects that might escape most people’s notice. You can listen on Apple or right here:

We know why Franklin’s death felt so momentous: She was a feminist icon who also spoke to us on a personal level. “Respect” was about one relationship, and every relationship. It’s empowering and heartbreaking at the same time: Why does she need to ask for respect? And yet her delivery assures us that she’ll get it.

You could find the same depth in songs like “Think,” “Precious Lord, Take My Hand,” and many, many more.

In this episode, we talk about artists who can craft that kind of connection with listeners — who can create art in which we can see our own messy lives, and our aspirations to be better. The lost artists we feel intense connections with range from Elliott Smith to Aaliyah.  And we talk about musical geniuses we’re grateful to still have in the world, Bill Withers and Stevie Wonder.

Aaron and I also talk about books our wives gave us early in our relationships. And for any single ladies trying to win Keith’s heart, we recommend some books that might win him over.

Finally, Aaron reveals a secret crush he’s never told anyone.

If you like “Low Key,” please review us on iTunes — and please share your thoughts and feelings about any celebrity deaths that affected you personally.