Last night, well early this morning, I was mindlessly cruising Facebook. I was completely taken aback to learn that David Bowie had passed. Normally, I am quite dubious of celebrity deaths, but since it was from a mainstream news source I believed.
It hit me like a ton of bricks, similar to when I learned John Lennon had been assassinated or the sudden death of Stevie Ray Vaughn. The death of an icon, someone larger than life that you think will live forever, the passing of part of your own life. A slow ache started in my heart as the reality set in. Another one of my favorites, that I could identify certain periods of my life with, had left this world.
I love music. As a preteen, I huddled around my AM radio and it played top 40 music, country, and whatever else I could dial in. I dreamed of becoming a DJ and meeting all these “record people.” Ziggy Stardust scared the hell out of a Midwestern girl with his orange hair, weird clothes and strange make-up. Major Tom (as I knew the song) made me feel eerily scared, as with the race to outer space was in full swing, I was just old enough to know an astronaut could not come back from a mission. The rest of the song was over my head at the time and I mostly just fixated on Ziggy’s appearance and haunting tunes.
But, through Ziggy, then David Bowie, I learned the true meaning of androgyny. I started to understand, little by little, his music. Bowie was no longer some “weirdo.” A few years later through MTV, I became enamored with China Girl, Let’s Dance, and had a whole new appreciation for Space Odyssey.
I really started to appreciate all the boundaries that David Bowie pushed. He was the trailblazer, recreating and transforming his image into something new and exciting. Others, like Lady Gaga and Marilyn Manson, have pushed these limits, but Bowie was the original. He had an almost ethereal look, thin, angelic look which was my favorite of his many personas.
I read that he was a chameleon, and he truly fit that word to the fullest definition. I saw him sing duets with many other stars from Bing Crosby, Tina Turner and, of course, Mick Jagger. Each with a different singing style, energy and overall look. David Bowie look as at home with Bing by the piano singing Drummer Boy as he did dancing and hopping around with Mick Jagger lip syncing Dancing in the Street in the middle of the night.
How many of us have screamed Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes. Turn and face the strange. Bowie did this with every breath he took. Look over the portfolio of his work in music, video, movies, and more.
David Bowie was larger than life in a dignified way and left us all with a parting gift of his last album just a few days before his death. Rest in Peace, Ziggy.
Space Odyssey excerpt
Though I’m fast one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much (she knows!)