2016 was a pretty terrible year. David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman, John Glenn…. we lost way too many good people. And at a terrible time, too, when some of the worst people were invading our Twitter feeds, blowing up our news alerts, and staging hostile takeovers.
But the one celebrity death that really did me in, the one that landed me in bed cradling a box of tissues, was the passing of our beloved Carrie Fisher – the most bad ass Disney princess of ALL (er, post-LucasFilm acquisition) TIME!
You might be rolling your eyes and thinking “Oh yeah, we were all upset. She was Princess Leia, we get it. You like Star Wars.” No, I don’t like Star Wars. I LOVE STAR WARS. I’m one of those people who goes to the midnight showings of all the movies dressed as Leia or Padme. Go ahead and challenge me to a game of Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. I dare you.
Now, Star Wars was already a huge phenomenon when I came screaming into this world in 1983. By the time I was three, though, I was captivated by the space saga, and especially by Princess Leia, a strong, smart, witty, funny, courageous, powerful woman. She was absolutely nothing like the Disney princesses I was raised on. Leia was a whole new kind of princess, and her feminism stuck with me, hard.
But as the 80s passed and the 90s rolled on, Carrie fell out of the Hollywood spotlight. Later, however, I re-discovered Carrie in a new way: through her novels. I stumbled upon her book “Postcards from the Edge” at the hormonal age of 13 in my school library. And let me clarify, this was an all-girls Catholic school library, so how and why a book about drug addiction and fleeting sexual encounters ended up there, I’ll never know. But I was glad it was there for me to find.
The novel was loosely based on Carrie’s experiences in rehab. It’s dark humor and dry wit were soothing to a 13 year old girl who had a family history of addiction. I pay homage to this life-changing book in my song and music video To Carrie Fisher, with love:
I love all of Carrie’s books, from her witty take on pregnancy in Delusions of Grandma, to her hilarious recollections of getting high on the set of Star Wars with Mark Hamill in Wishful Drinking, to her angsty teenage poetry about secret lover Harrison Ford in her last book The Princess Diarist. Carrie saved me time and time again with her insight, brutal honesty, and wordplay.
As a lyricist myself, I can only hope to pen poetry half as poignant as hers. Check out this one she wrote about Harrison Ford, with whom she had a tantric 3-month love affair on the set of Star Wars.
With him love was easier done than said
Instead of taking you to heart he would take you to bed
And you take what he has to offer lying down
You’re getting more involved while he’s still getting around
It’s all a matter of touch and go
Cause he’s one for all and all for show
But after all was said and almost done
I was playing for keeps and he was playing for fun
I mean COME ON, she was 19 YEARS OLD. Who writes poetry this good at 19?! Carrie Fisher, that’s who!
When Carrie died, I was wrecked. I cried uncontrollably the day of her heart attack, and I cried for a week after she finally passed. Her acting, writing, stand-up comedy, and unabashed honesty have left an indelible mark on me. It will be weird and wonderful to see her beautiful face and hear her husky voice in Star Wars Episode VIII when it’s released in December. The wonders of CGI could feasibly bring Princess Leia back to life in the years to come (they already did in Rogue One). But no amount of computer programming can resurrect a brain, a wit, a humor, a talent as wonderful and real as Carrie’s.
May the Force Be With You, Princess.
Melissa’s song “To Carrie Fisher, with love” appears on her critically-acclaimed album Harmonious Maladies. Click here to preview tracks and download your copy today.