SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
There's been a lot of death in the news these last few days between Syria and several celebrities. As we close the year, we might recall some things said by some people we lost that will stay with us for a long time. Prince, who died at 57 after making music to dazzle generations, said, it's a hurtful place, the world, in and of itself. We don't need to add to it. Elie Wiesel, who survived Auschwitz to reveal the Holocaust for so many, died at 87. I thought of his words when Aleppo fell this month to the Syrian regime. Whenever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion or political views, he said, that place must become the center of the universe.
Arnold Palmer was also 87. He brought his steel mill town values to the country club game of golf and said, the more I practice, the luckier I get. Garry Marshall, the writer and director, was 81 and once advised, learned to work with people you wouldn't go to lunch with. Muhammad Ali, the champion of the world still for many people, was 74. He said a lot of things outlandish and wise in a life that was almost overfilled with triumphs and misfortunes. A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20, he said, has wasted 30 years of his life.
John Glenn was 95, a hero in the classic sense of a man who dared to go into the realm of gods. But as I hurtled through space, he once said, one thought kept crossing my mind - every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder. David Bowie was just 69 and also a star man. I don't like to read things that people write about me, he said, I'd rather read what kids have to say about me because it's not their profession to do that. Debbie Reynolds was a teenage star who grew up to be a great dame. She liked the title of show business. She said, I do 20 minutes whenever I open the refrigerator and the light goes on. She died at 84, just a day after losing her daughter, Carrie Fisher, who was 60. The mother was a ham, her daughter was rye. If my life wasn't funny, it would just be true, Carrie Fisher said, and that is unacceptable.
As Leonard Cohen, who was 82, said, there is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in. And Merle Haggard, who died on his birthday at 79, came out of the Dust Bowl to sing about loss, love and learning from hard knocks. He said, by the time you get close to the answers, it's nearly all over.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOMEDAY WE'LL LOOK BACK")
MERLE HAGGARD: (Singing) Someday when our dream world finds us, and these hard times are gone, we'll laugh and count our blessings in a mansion all our own. If we both pull together, tomorrow's sure to come. Someday we'll look back and say, it was fun.
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