It's just one example of how strong emotions resulting from a fatal tragedy can help create musical art. Others include Elton John and Bernie Taupin's "Candle in the Wind" (Marilynn Monroe), Lucinda William's "Drunken Angel" (Joey Ramon), and Bad Company's "Shooting Star" (a composite of musicians who passed before their time.)
A death can certainly be a potent creative motivator when it hits close to home. See Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," a song he co-wrote about the death of his young son Coner.
When my girlfriend's brother died I was moved so much by her pain and grief that I wrote "There's a Better Place" as an outlet for those feelings. I was feeling so helpless that I wanted to find a way to provide any little bit of comfort that I could.
I think it helped us both at the time.
Several decades before that I saw my mother suffering from a similar situation. Her twin sister was slowing wasting away from terminal cancer. Mom had already experienced the loss of her own husband, and my dad, years before and I was worried that this additional blow would break her.
Trying to find a way to cope with this I wrote the song "Watch 'Em Go" (Mom's Prayer). It was essentially a plea to God to give her the strength to survive this.
Mom did get through it but her strength finally did give out. She died a few days after Christmas.
I don’t know whether this numbness I feel will eventually spark a creative outlet. It took me about four decades to write song about the death of my father ("Couldn't Bear to Say Goodbye.”)
As Willie Nelson wrote, “Its’ not something you get over, but it's something you get through.” And sometimes it takes a lot of time to get through.
I had already planned to rerecord and include Mom's Prayer on my next release. Now I’m even more determined to release it after all these years.