Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pope St. Gregory the Great (c.540 to March 12, 604)

"I like that you don't care that I'm famous. That you like me for who I really am," said an ex-lover, who is the lead singer of a internationally recognized Canadian rock band with numerous hits songs. "It also helps that you're good looking."
As a journalist, I was around rock musicians all the time and I saw starstruck fans throw themselves at these guys. Even today, in the local circuit, women seem to be turned on by any male with a guitar. He can be the most unkempt person around, but if he's a musician, women seem to go wild.
"Joe," (that's what I'll call him for privacy's sake) on the other hand, was a well-groomed neat freak who would have his nodes checked regularly and always ask me about my hair products. Knowing him gave me an insider's look at what the 80s hair band phenomenon was all about.
Surprisingly, he's not mentioned on any of the groupie websites where women talk about what it's like to have sex with a famous rock star, and even though this is "A Sinner's Guide to the Saints," I'm certainly not going to put that kind of information on here.
I met Joe, who I had interviewed for the newspaper, after being coaxed by my then on-again, off-again boyfriend, John, to see him in concert. He was a huge fan of the band's music and even brought along some memorabilia to have autographed.
John hung out with an ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend for part of the night, so I figured we were in the off-again stage as I watched the show alone.
Backstage, I told Joe that my cousin was crazy about him, to which he replied, "Is your cousin a guy or a girl?" Most of his fans, he said, were women or gay men.
A few days later, after the band was back home in Canada, I got a phone call from Joe while I was at my desk in the newsroom. We talked every day for a couple of weeks until I finally went to Ontario and nearly lost my job in the process for leaving a day earlier than expected and not finishing a major assignment.
Joe's parents were Italian immigrants, he graduated from a Roman Catholic all boys high school, and his oldest brother was killed in a car wreck when they were teenagers. He said that as soon as his mother heard rescue vehicles down the street, she knew that her son was dead.
Right before I met Joe, another brother's son, then a teenager, was paralyzed in an automobile accident.
What I found out about this rock musician was that wherever we went he was still recognized (although he claimed it was harder for him to go out in public when the band was at the peak of its career), but he tried to lived what I considered a normal life.
Joe was an entirely different person off stage. He visited his parents all the time, had a house in Crystal Beach, and restored sports cars. He drank beer, rode motorcycles, and owned several electric guitars.
Last time I spoke with him, another older brother had died unexpectedly from a heart attack after going through a horrible divorce. Although Joe was famous, he was just like everyone else, having his own share of heartache.
Joe comes to mind today not for nostaglic reasons. Simply because I remember looking at his Juno Award for Best Group of the Year and gold albums in frames on the walls and hearing him say that he would rather have had his brother survive the car wreck than have all the fame and success that was handed to him.
Pope St. Gregory the Great is the patron saint of singers. He was born in Rome, Italy c.540. His father was Gordianus, a rich senator, and his mother was St. Silvia. His great grandfather was Pope St. Felix III.
Pope St. Gregory the Great was a Benedictine monk and a Doctor of the Church. He was Pope from Sept. 3, 590 to his death on March 12, 604. His feast day is Sept. 3.

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