“I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture that I was living in. It just seemed like a challenge to move it a little bit towards the way I thought it might be interesting to go.” ~ David Bowie
On the way to take my children to school this morning, the news poured out of the radio. Atrocities in Syria, politics, the weather… But I hadn’t expected the three seconds worth of shock that was squeezed in almost as an afterthought. David Bowie passed away.
I was shocked. I couldn’t have heard that right, I thought. But upon returning home the web was awash with the story. Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie, Davy Jones—dead at the age of 69, just days after his birthday and the release of his newest, and last, album ‘Blackstar’.
Celebrity gossip is not usually something I much go in for. The mega-rich and mega-famous live lives so far outside the normal person’s realm that they are nothing more than a fairy tale to me. But this death makes me sad and I’m not sure if I truly know why.
I’ve never seen Bowie in concert. I don’t own any of his albums. I do love his music and am in awe of how well he has transformed himself and his music to stay rich and vibrant through decades worth of performances though. He played up shock and his sexuality in the 70s—I remember my babysitter emulating him and thinking she was just plain weird. He collaborated with artists the likes of Mick Jagger, Queen, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Brian Eno, Trent Reznor, Arcade Fire, and many more. Pick an artist and you might find they played together at some point.
Most inspiring though was that David Bowie was always himself. He tried his hand at acting and theatre, played guitar, piano, and saxophone, was a producer, and most notably wrote and sang hundreds of songs. He was a lover of books and by all accounts was an incredibly intelligent individual. Plus, he looked good while doing it.
Some might protest, but style was certainly something that Bowie rocked. Whether he was sporting androgynous outfits, Japanese fashions or tailored suits, he crafted his image like no one could. I applaud the transformations from freak to funk, to fashionista bar none. He inspired people to be different, be daring, be themselves.
Is that why I am so saddened at his passing? David Bowie by example encouraged everyone to be themselves, but moreso, to be their best somethings. You don’t have to fit into a mold to make a difference or an impression. You can find love, praise and/or notoriety, if that is what you’re looking for. You just need to be daring enough to be your own Major Tom and leave the capsule.
Despite his step off to a new journey, Bowie leaves behind a legacy which has touched millions. I feel for his family, who are beginning a grief journey with him at the centre of it. But I suspect they will find comfort in the many ways they can hold onto this incredible legend of a man who was his own hero.
“We can be heroes, just for one day” ~ David Bowie
Fare thee well in your travels Thin White Duke.