On Def Leppard

 

After seeing, I'm sure, the interviews with Dar Williams, Susan Werner and others, Def Leppard is probably not the next logical step in a progression of musicians that you were looking for. And, no, I'm not writing this to announce that Def Leppard will be the next interview posted, although earlier this summer they were in close proximity to the Lehigh Valley.

Def Leppard and I have a connection that goes back to August 3, 1987, the day before my 6th birthday, when their fourth album Hysteria was released and my brother, who was 13 at the time, absolutely fell in love with those big-haired heavy metal Brits. Over the next six years, all I heard blaring from my brother's room was any album Def Leppard ever put out. Things got worse when my parents finally caved and got my brother both an acoustic and then later (much, much to my chagrin) an electric guitar.  Suddenly, "huge fan" became replaced with "rockstar" until I knocked on his door and asked him to please keep it down so I could try and sleep.  There were countless times when he would say "Kimmy," (he's one of very few people ever, and I mean ever, get away with calling me that) "you've got to listen to this. I think I've got it!"  While I usually thought he wasn't as nearly there as he thought he was, my younger sibling duty (being not only younger but also smaller) was to agree whole-heartedly and offer all kinds of encouragement, as well as a kindly reminder that I went to bed a lot earlier than he did, especially on school nights. The bits of songs he played, or tried his best to play, were always Def Leppard songs.  And once, when staying with our aunt and uncle while my parents were at my Mom's high school reunion, my brother purchased a Def Leppard wallet which was the only wallet he ever carried.

This August 12th will mark fourteen years since my brother committed suicide at age 21.  The last time I ever spoke with him was on my fourteenth birthday, when he called to wish me a very happy one and to say he was sorry he forgot to mail a card in time.

In advertising this year's National Survivors of Suicide Day to be held on November 21st, a poster from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says, "Every 16 minutes someone in the U.S. dies by suicide. Every 17 minutes someone is left to make sense of it."  The making sense of it bit will last those affected for the rest of their lives in a process that is both highly individual and deeply personal, yet, also communal.  If you or someone you know has been affected by suicide, the first words I can offer are my most sincere and deepest sympathies.  The second is that when you're ready, and only then, it really does help to talk with someone about it--your partner, your family, your friends, a religious or spiritual practitioner.  Remember your pain and your loss, laugh and cry when you need to, but also remember the good times. Like finally getting that brother of yours back for always wanting to use the Water-Pik first at night by sticking the rinsing water jet down his pajama pants, turning the water on "high," and running like hell out of the bathroom before he could retaliate.

Not that I ever did anything like that...

This afternoon, as I started to write something completely different to post about (my apologies for a somewhat macaber post), the traffic light outside my apartment changed to red. The car that was stopped right outside my front door (I always say "front door" although it's the only exterior door I have) had its windows down, and blaring from its speakers was a song I knew very well.

It was the fourth single from that Hysteria album, "Pour Some Sugar On Me," to which, even now, I know all the lyrics.  I'd like to think that, after all this time, my brother still knows exactly how to get to me.

 

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