Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you may recall that Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings released an adorable and just plain fun Christmas album of original and reworked seasonal tunes It’s a Holiday Soul Party! last year. Sadly, Sharon Jones last month after a three year fight with pancreatic cancer, adding to a lengthy list of beloved artists and personalities who have died throughout the course of this year. People die; after all, it’s just what people do. But there are some people, who are larger than life itself, who seem incapable of dying — and in my mind Miss Sharon Jones was one of them.
As an atheist, I’d say that there’s nothing beyond this. This is all there is, folks. And if there’s any concept of heaven and hell, it’s more likely to be simultaneously within and on the mortal plane with life’s judgement depending on a few simple questions that only those who know you would be able to answer — mainly, when it’s your time to go, what will your friends, colleagues and associates do? What will they say about you? Will someone be around you to see you leave this world? Will the loss of your presence be inconsolable? That is the measure and weight of our lives. In other words, be more like Miss Jones, whose friends and family were there with her in last moments and whose humor, dignity, grace and strength are deeply missed.
(As a side note, I should mention the last time I saw Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings was during the Daptone Records Soul Revue show at The Apollo Theater and that night was by far one of the most inspiring nights of live music I’ve personally seen. I had gotten laid off from a job the day before and while relieved to be out of a situation that made me feel anxious and deeply unhappy, I was also uncertain and frightened over what I was going to do about money and how I was going to provide for myself and my mother. Anyway, I saw Miss Jones talk about how a few short months before, she was in bad shape — she had lost her hair from chemotherapy, was incredibly sick all the time and could barely move from her bed. And here she was on stage singing and joyously singing her fucking heart out, turning a song about kicking a bad man out of her life into a song about kicking cancer and being here, right now. Talk about perspective y’all!)
Interestingly, over the past week Sharon’s family, friends and fans gathered in Brooklyn and Augusta, GA to remember her and celebrate her life. And in an almost prescient sense of timing, the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer-styled Claymation video for “Please Come Home For Christmas” was posthumously released — although it was finished and planned for release before Jones’ death last month. Arguably because of Jones’ death, the ache, longing and loneliness and the narrator’s hope that her suffering and loneliness will soon to be over, the song just manages to possess a deeper and visceral heartbreak.
Adding to the song’s ache, the video follows a profoundly lonely old man, who is constantly reminded that doing the holiday season that out of some occurrence of fate or bad luck is alone — that is until he takes a chance and is warmly welcomed by the one person, he desperately missed the most. God, it’s kind of dusty in here.