Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Scenery, Saints, & Rock Stars: Avril Lavigne Turns 37

I have been doing lots of saint's days and beautiful outdoor pictures lately, but if you read this blog you know that we range far and wide with topics considered. Music is a fascination I have followed all my life, and it's time to mark another anniversary in the musical world.

Avril Lavigne is one of the "millennial" era’s pop stars that I can’t help appreciating as an artist (in spite of some ‘facepalm-worthy’ periods of her career). She is also a kind of multifaceted, wide-ranging yet concentrated symbolic figure who reflects the dramatic tensions, frustrated longings, and tenacious aspirations of the generation that has grown up with her over the past 20 years. In the secular, aesthetic sense, she has projected a sustained multimedia image that could be called “iconic” (along the lines of what Marshall McLuhan meant by this term in his pioneering media studies). You may have seen her recent GEICO commercials which, for her contemporaries, are self-explanatory - while also being funny enough for everyone else.

Still... Avril Lavigne in a car insurance commercial? Huh?

But before I wander too far into these speculations, let me say “Happy Birthday Avril!” She turned 37 years old yesterday. I am happy for her first of all for a very personal reason: her Lyme Disease remains in remission. And she continues to work to help other people who (like me) have more… ummm… “complicated” cases of this debilitating illness.

Avril seems to be doing okay with her health. Though still drawing somewhat on the theme of “never growing up” (which was - I think - a sad theme in 2012), it’s more tongue-in-cheek these days. Avril’s sense of humor and almost intuitive genius for self-parody are at work, as well as the fact that she is one of those bright petite people who just looks young

Also, she still seems like a child in many ways, not all of them positive ways: there is an impression of a damaged, fractured, interrupted life - like many rock stars and celebrities who become famous in their youth. I feel like Avril is afflicted with a bewildered, broken, half-innocence - obstructed by many distractions but groping in the fog in search of paths forward toward maturity.

I mean no condescension here. I say this with great respect and affection, with some familiarity and much empathy for the obscure sufferings of artists, and a particular solidarity with my fellow Lyme survivor. Avril has often tried too hard to act like a hard-partying, hard-cussing, weird rock-chick rebel; it isn't really convincing in a deep-down way. Underneath, there's a lot of vulnerability, a generous spirit, a loveable soul. I'm always praying for her. I pray too for the puzzled generation she represents, who now find themselves surprised and unprepared for the "middle-aged" life that will soon be upon them.

The word is that Avril has new music coming out before the end of the year. But she doesn’t have to rush it, as far as I’m concerned. She has an amazing singing voice, and I hope she uses it well. And I wish her many more years of creativity and renewed health.🎶