Today, I humbly request that you take a moment to reflect on the memory of a man who spent his life trying to help us take a clearer look at the ugly side of our society through comedy. A man who laid in the trenches taking grenades, going through some of the most fundamentalist, seediest, and all around low places of this country with an unfaltering message of refusal to take the lies and the bullshit of the establishment anymore.
Seventeen years ago today, on February 26th, 1994, Bill Hicks passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 32.
In my mind, there were two truly great comedians of the 80s: Sam Kinison and Bill Hicks. Kinison, a former preacher, used his talented voice to deliver a performance fit at the same time for the pulpit vocally and the dive bars materially. On the opposite side of that coin, Bill Hicks spoke to us in a conversational tone. He tried to reach out as a friend when he spoke, not crush us with the resounding presence of his voice. And beyond trying to make us laugh, Bill Hicks presented one of the most complete and admirable philosophies that I've ever been exposed to.
In fact, the title of this blog, "It's Just a Ride" is taken from my favorite bit of Bill's. After hour or 90 minute long sets of vulgar yet articulate ranting, Bill would often close his set with this:
Not the most popular opinion, I know. But I believe that we, after nearly 2 decades, still have a lot we can learn from Bill. From his scathing attacks on political corruption, to his shockingly vitriolic deconstruction of the music industry and anything else that falls under his cross-hair, Bill still today inspires many to open their eyes, all three of them, a little wider and take stock of their surroundings.
Bill is buried in his family plot in Leakesville, Mississippi. Before he passed, he left his last words in the form of a prayer that he wrote on his deathbed, which I have linked for you here. It closes with the following.
I left in love, in laughter, and in truth and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.
Alas, it seems, just as Bill said, it is always the Good Ones that leave us too soon, while we are left to the demonic machinations of the monsters that are allowed to run amok. But I for one take heart. I take heart in knowing that all this really is Just A Ride.
And I take heart in knowing that Bill is there waiting on the other side, with a smoke and a joke, waiting to show us how wonderful this life really can be when we close the doors on the hearts and minds of fear, and open ourselves to love.
Rest In Peace Bill
You are missed, though your spirit lives on.