Today would have been Bill’s 55th birthday. I tend to celebrate it like any other poignant anniversary, with revered remembrance and lots of love.
I wrote once about how we’d turn one another on to movies we loved, the other hadn’t seen. A great memory of mine. But there was one film we both loved and watched together. A Lion in Winter, with Katharine Hepburn and Peter O’Toole, both never as majestic on the big screen.
The movie itself is extremely poignant, it’s story of an exiled wife, by her unhinged husband who also happened to be King Henry II, each with a favorite son, through palace intrigue, wanting to inherit the throne.
There was also real life drama going on, it being Kate Hepburn’s first film since the death of Spencer Tracy, O’Toole gently coaxing her out of mourning to play the part.
“You’re the only one who could play Eleanor,” he was known to have said, as in Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most powerful women of her day. It was also Anthony Hopkins’s film debut as Richard the Lionhearted, a slam dunk first performence launching him like a cinematic rocket.
I remember sitting at Hicks’s feet with him on the couch swooning in the language.
But the soliquy I remember best is the exchange between the two brothers locked in the dungeon by their father.
Prince Richard: “He’s here (Henry II ). He’ll get no satisfaction out of me. He isn’t going to see me beg.”
Prince Geoffrey: “My, you chivalric fool…as if the way one fell down mattered.”
Prince Richard: “When the fall is all there is, it matters.”
If there was ever a speech tailored for Bill Hicks, it was that one.
The noblest of all falling on his sword February 26th, 1994, a little after his 32nd birthday.
I picture you Bill, strolling in the sunshine in worn out jeans with the tails of your white muslim, what you called your Jakarta shirt, swaying in the breeze.
You have the black raincoat, you love so much your mom bought you, over your arm just in case of rain. We can hear your boots clicking on those heavenly cobblestones humming a happy tune, working on something fiercely funny to enlighten us with.
We think of you today, as in every day.
Happy Birthday Willie.