December 23 is Eddie Vedder’s birthday.
Over the past couple of days, I’ve been thinking about the relationship between the idea of fame and the sign of Capricorn. Fame is quite different from status, and status is the concept I associate with Capricorn. However, the two concepts are often discussed as if they are interchangeable. I do it all the time.
Anyway, I’ve written about the ingress of Saturn into Capricorn and how I see producing a shift in popular culture into something more authentic and enduring. In the early sixties, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol were creating their most-iconic works — paintings that would not only become famous by the time Saturn entered Aquarius, but also paintings that would turn the artists into multimillionaire celebrities within their own lifetimes.
In the late eighties and early nineties, Saturn in Capricorn laid the groundwork for the artist as a reluctant antihero. George Michael stepped out of the spotlight to produce “Freedom! ’90.” Michael Jackson released his video for “Leave Me Alone.” And Eddie Vedder formed Pearl Jam.
I had never looked at Vedder’s chart until now, but I also had a look at his biography on Wikipedia where I read an interesting passage:
“Feeling the pressures of success, with much of the burden of Pearl Jam’s popularity falling on Vedder, the band decided to decrease the level of promotion for its albums, including refusing to release music videos. Vedder’s issue with fame came from what he stated as ‘what happens when a lot of these people start thinking you can change their lives or save their lives or whatever and create these impossible fuckin’ expectations that in the end just start tearing you apart.'”
Of the artists I just mentioned, only Vedder is a Capricorn. He’s also the sole survivor among the lead singers of the big three grunge acts; fame had its way with Kurt Cobain and Chris Cornell. But that is beside the point. What I’m trying to point out is that during the Saturn in Capricorn phase of the sixties, the “artist” worked hard behind the scenes in order to create something that would redefine the role of the artist within his own lifetime. The status of the artist in the public eye was forever changed. In the nineties, pop stars like George Michael, Michael Jackson and Eddie Vedder attempted to do the opposite. They retreated from the spotlight (or publicly stated that they wanted to retreat from the spotlight) because the nature of fame had once again changed. They elevated their status amongst their peers by actively shunning fame.
I believe that we’re in one of these transformational periods again. Something needs to change. When I try to look up a birthday and I find that kids who post videos of themselves talking about themselves are more popular than artists like Eddie Vedder, it makes me sad. But I take solace in the idea that a cosmic shift is upon us. We’re only a couple of days into it, but I can feel it happening with every fiber of my being. We’re entering an era of authenticity where fame and status will come as reward for doing something remarkable that no one else has done before.