Many of us are world-weary, hardened adults. Very little causes us to suddenly sit up in shock and engage in reflection. Saying “there’s nothing new under the sun” is unnecessary, as we know it instinctively; indeed, even saying it almost seems naive. Occasionally, though, something gets through.
Here’s one: “Doug Fieger, frontman for ’80s power-pop band the Knack, has been diagnosed with 22 brain tumors. He previously had a piece of his lung removed (in 2004.)” It hardly seems possible. Indeed, it hardly seems like so much time has passed between the debut of Get The Knack, the album that proved both blessing and curse for the band. It spawned several top ten hits, an iconic single that I need not name because you already know it (you knew it when I wrote “The Knack”) and the black and white band photo on the cover, complete with a leering Fieger promising a good time to those who dared enter. It also became too big for its own good, creating a backlash ensuring further ventures from The Knack never would scale those heights again.
If you go back to those discs you find not only the horny, smart-ass pop you loved, but a deep respect for the sounds that preceded them, Phil Spector’s wall of sound, the realization that you don’t need to make a song more than seven minutes long in order to make an impact. But as they always calculate, hindsight equals 20/20. After The Knack, Fieger found his way into television, appearing frequently on the sitcom Roseanne as one of Dan Connor’s poker buddies.
Having experienced family members who have suffered, and ultimately passed, from brain cancer, this news is particularly raw and jarring for me. They call the mind ‘the seat of the soul’; it’s essentially the heart we sing of when we talk about love and despair, not the fist-shaped bellows inside our chest, and when a doctor says to you that particular part is where the attacks are occurring, it’s very much like saying the whole of a person is attacked at once. A person can lose a limb, even an organ, and still be that person. They can even have their organ-heart replaced with a donor’s and still be that person. Brain cancer doesn’t allow for such easy answers. If you are your brain, what does it mean when your brain no longer functions in your best interests?
Fieger’s attitude is good, and he’s quoted in reference to the worst-case scenario that treatment may not stick — “I’m not sure it’s the worst” — inferring that he still has hope in the face of the odds against him. “When we get there, we might kick ourselves and say, ‘Why didn’t I show up sooner?'” He has reason to believe in the possibilities as he recalls his grandmother lived for 21 years after being diagnosed. We at Popdose agree with his position and wish him a strong and steady recovery in this time of trial. We don’t like eulogies — keep a good thought in mind for Doug Fieger today so that we won’t have to write one for many years to come.