This past week I was faced with a tough task: I had to comfort a 13-year-old girl I mentor over Zayn Malik’s recent departure from the boy band One Direction.
Here’s how the conversation kind of went:
13-year-old heartbroken girl: Why would Zayn leave the group? (choking on a sob) How could he do this?
Me: Honey, I know you’re upset. These things happen all the time. Look at the Beatles.
13-year-old heartbroken girl: Who are the Beatles?
After that I held my tongue. Although I really wanted to give this kid a dose of reality, I couldn’t do that to her. However, if I could’ve mustered up the courage to lay the truth down to her, here is what I probably would have said:
When four or five guys (or girls) form a band and that band becomes fairly successful, something called EGO takes over. And when four or five EGOS are fighting for this or that, all hell can break loose. Shit happens. Such as:
A woman comes between two members of the band and wham! Not only is the group done but so is a friendship.
A band member becomes physically hurt in an accident. To numb the pain he is turned on to heroin by a “friend”. As his addiction increases, the other members intervene. He is eventually kicked out of the band. The band covers it up saying that this band member who has left is “pursuing other musical interests” but interestingly enough, this band member does nothing musically for years. The remaining members eventually disband and the drug addict member does recover and eventually does make a musical come back.
A band member is murdered by another band member.
A member of the band leaves because she wants to settle down and have a family.
A member of the band turns 16.
The band gets OLD. Nobody buys their music any longer. Who cares?
I could go on and on. Over the years there have been countless band demises for numerous reasons. Most of us don’t stay in the same job with the same company all of our lives. Why would we expect the same of any musician?
Seeing your favorite band perform when you are 13 is a lot different from seeing that same band perform when you are 30. You’ve all grown up. And most musicians don’t age well. They have developed certain ailments: arthritis, diabetes, hearing loss, vision loss, memory loss. Try to enjoy a performance from a musical act whose guitarist is struggling to play the guitar due to arthritis, the drummer keeps hitting the cymbal in the wrong spot because his depth perception is off, the bassist is wishing he could escape to the bathroom, the keyboardist is playing the wrong notes because he can’t hear well and the lead singer is trying to remember what the hell city he’s in. That’s when it’s time to hang it up.
Sure it would be nice if our favorite bands could last forever. But would we still want to see them when we’re in our sixties and they’re in their eighties (if they are even still alive?). Not every band is the Rolling Stones…
So to my 13-year-old friend I say: you have the memories of when Zayn was in the band. If you really care about him as a fan, be glad for him that he is finally able to do what he really wants to do, whatever that may be. Maybe you’ll catch him on the One Direction Reunion Tour thirty years from now….he’ll be the one with the cane.