Vale David Bowie.

The stars look very different today.

“And the stars look very different today.”

I will forever remember what I was doing when I heard that David Bowie was dead, as what had been occupying my time that afternoon is now horribly ironic. I’d been listening to Hunky Dory and a stack of his outtakes; I’d been loading reviews of Blackstar, ready for after I’d listened to it (I’m still waiting on its delivery); I’d been learning how to play a few of his songs on guitar. Then mere minutes later, I discovered that he was gone. He is a true Starman, now, I guess.

What can I say? David is one of my greatest heroes. Over this past year, he has influenced me so much, and I in turn admire him more than words can convey. His work, lately, has been so unpredictable, and his death is no exception.

David fell into my life 3 years ago, but it was only last year (when I visited the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition, then in Melbourne) that I became the intense follower of his work that I am today. This can be put down to the exhibition: I entered it an excited yet casual fan, but I left it forever changed by the magic of his art. I’ve barely let a day go by without listening to his music since.

David’s influence and inspiration on me is a gift beyond words. He showed me so much: his sartorial prowess gave me the confidence to dress androgynously and to create my own style; he taught me to stop caring about what other people think, to not force myself to conform, to be truly comfortable in my own skin; he even inspired me to dye my hair bright Ziggy-orange! His music is filled with his incredible passion, emotion and intensity, making it feel so real and infinitely amazing, giving it the ability to make you both grin at its euphoria and cry at its beauty; his lyrics are articulate, intelligent and beautiful, just like the man himself; many of his films are spine-chilling in their brilliance (The Man Who Fell To Earth comes to mind); his ch-ch-ch-ch-changes gave his work such an unpredictable mystery, setting him apart from virtually every other artist in the world; he was a true icon, not only to the “outsiders” that identified with his art but to the entire world, whether they know it or not; his work remains almost as radical as when it was first released; and as recounted in my now-hauntingly-appropriate post from the other week, he knew how to merge sound and vision like no other. He was orignal; creative; intelligent; iconic; heroic; funny; thought-provoking; beautiful; incredible. There is little in this world that has affected me as much as his work.

It’s hard to believe, now, that it was only a few days beforehand that the music world was celebrating both his birthday and the release of his newest album, Blackstar. We’ve had the news for a day, now, but it still hasn’t quite sunk in yet. While, deep down, we all knew that Bowie was both human and mortal, I don’t think anyone expected this to happen so soon. Recently, a number of important musicians have also died, but I wasn’t prepared for the fact that one of my favourites would be next. I certainly wasn’t prepared for it to be Bowie. He was like a friend I never knew. Like much of the world, I was utterly heartbroken by the news. I rarely cry over celebrity deaths, but Bowie was this rule’s exception.

But David and his work have given me so many amazing memories, so today has not been exclusively saddening. It is hard to forget the times I spent jumping around to ‘Suffragette City’, ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’, ‘Queen Bitch’, laughing, screaming the lyrics at the top of my lungs; the first times I listened to his albums, falling in love with them immediately;  the times I sat and listened to ‘Rock’n’Roll Suicide’, ‘”Heroes”‘, ‘Quicksand’, my spine tingling, in tears at their beauty; the joy of discovering the mountains of his almost-unknown B-sides and outtakes (‘Holy Holy’, ‘Velvet Goldmine’, the Arnold Corns versions of ‘Moonage Daydream’ and ‘Hang Onto Yourself’). These memories, undoubtedly, will be continued, and I’m certain that many more will be created over the course of my life. While listening to his work won’t be the same again, it will continue to incite such a passion and joy in both me and millions of other fans around the world. Because Bowie means so much to so many people – and his death won’t change that.

Rest in the greatest of peaces, Mr Jones. You were so many things over the years, but your genius was a constant. Planet Earth is blue right now, but we will forever remember the impact you had on both the world and so many of our lives. You little wonder you. xx

david bowie

“I love you so.”

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12 thoughts on “Vale David Bowie.

  1. I’ve been listening to his music a lot since we heard. I was trying to write a second draft of a story, listening to Wild Is The Wind and Quicksand, but abandoned it. The story is dark enough.
    Here in the UK the news and everybody’s FB feeds have been full of his passing. Who is left of his stature? I can think only of McCartney, Dylan, Springsteen, Clapton, Jagger&Richards. And they are all now surely in their twilight. Who is there to replace them, of today’s artists who will still be around and relevant in thirty years time?
    I can’t come up with anybody.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Van! Planet Earth is certainly a lot more blue, today – I, for one, have been gutted. But he was right; the Starman came to meet us, he blew our minds and the children are still boogie-ing. Right now, I’m so grateful for his incredible body of work, and the great memories that stand alongside it. His magic will last forever.

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  3. (Sorry, I didn’t see this before!) David’s passing is the first celebrity death that has affected me. I don’t think anyone expected this to happen now, and it does make you think about how the greatest musicians aren’t exactly getting any younger. In 30-40 years, they’ll all be gone. But at least they’ll leave such incredible legacies behind – Bowie, in particular, completely changed the lives of so many people (myself included), and we’ll always have his art and the memories. I’m grateful for that, right now.
    In Australia, we’ve had a similar reaction – it is amazing to see how many people were affected by Bowie, and the amount of people heartbroken over the news, right now. It is times like these that you realise how omnipresent he was.
    (And ironically, I was learning ‘Quicksand’ on guitar just before I learnt of his death. And ‘Wild Is The Wind’ is such a beautiful song – it’s hard to believe it was a cover. Good luck with your story!)

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  4. I found out about David Bowie’s death by a text message from a friend late Sunday night and it seemed so unreal that I had to check with her several times over to make sure she wasn’t just kidding me. I then woke up my entire family in the middle of the night to tell them the sad news and my younger sister and I cried together into the late hours of night. I too had just learned a Bowie song on the guitar just the day before (although for me it was Andy Warhol). Going to school the next Monday was the hardest though, because not only was I completely distraught and fighting back tears through most of my classes, but I couldn’t believe how few of my classmates had realized what a great loss the world had just suffered. There I was, dressed in all black and wearing a Bowie shirt and earrings still trying to come to terms with the news, while all my peers could talk about was a football game as the “big event” of the weekend. A classmate asked me if Aladdin Sane was Frankenstein.
    But after going home and re-listening to “Blackstar” and realizing how much Bowie’s passing revealed about his true intent behind the album was (that genius is still one step ahead of us), I regained a sense of hope, especially from this prophetic verse of “Blackstar”:

    Something happened on the day he died
    Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
    Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried
    (I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar)

    Even though we’ve lost Bowie, our Blackstar who bravely opposed the status quo with his art and who has now transcended above us, a new Blackstar will someday rise. No one will every replace Bowie, but a real Blackstar would not be replacing anyone. He or she would “bravely cry” a unique message, regardless of what others think. I feel like the greatest forms of art have all been reactions to some sort of injustice. There are plenty of things is this world that need fixing (as there have always been) and it will be the next Blackstar that will lead the way to progress. Bowie has left us with this beautiful message of hope: that even though he is gone, the power of art and hope and change will never leave us.
    Your post was such a beautiful tribute to David Bowie and I hope that he’s somewhere up there enjoying the Stardust.
    P.S. Sorry for this extremely long comment. There is just too much to say about Mr. Jones.

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  5. (Sorry for taking so long to reply!)
    I found out about Bowie late Monday afternoon, via a call from my dad – he told my mum the news first, but I figured that someone I admired had died, so I frantically Googled the names of my favourite musicians to find out. My reaction was similar to yours: first, shock and denial (I was convinced it was a hoax – for how could a man that had just celebrated his birthday and released one of his greatest albums yet be dead?), after which I spent most of the night crying. A week on, it still feels a little weird referring to him in the past tense. (It’s spooky that you were learning one of his songs on guitar, too!)
    That’s awful about your school – it seems almost wrong for people to care about something as trivial as a school football game so soon after what happened, and it must have been really difficult to be left to deal with the news in class. (And does that person that asked you if Aladdin Sane was Frankenstein live under a rock?!) In Australia, we are currently in the middle of our long Summer break and this is something I’m grateful for, as I was able to grieve and remember him both in my own time and way. But when I do return, I know that virtually no-one in my classes will have been affected by the news, and most won’t have even heard of him before – this saddens me.
    But what you say is so true. While no-one will ever replace Bowie, another “blackstar” will arrive soon, and they too will change the world. To second what you said, they will begin to heal some of our world’s injustice, and they will affect the lives of their followers incredibly. They will inspire reams of people for years to come, just like the original ‘blackstar’. Bowie, himself, will certainly continue to affect both our world and his fans – his art will undoubtedly transcend his death, forever turning the worlds of his fans on their heads. To paraphrase what I wrote in an earlier comment, he met us, he blew our minds, and the children will continue to boogie for the rest of eternity. His message is one that will never become irrelevant, and perhaps that is one of the greatest aspect of his art. (And yes, he was totally always one step ahead of us! He remained an utter genius right up until his death…)
    Thank you – I’m so glad you enjoyed my tribute! I hope David is resting in the greatest of peaces, somewhere up in the suitably-starry sky.
    (And no need to apologise for the length of your comment – it was beautiful!)

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  6. This is such a lovely tribute. I think I was on twitter when I found out he’d died. It felt like I’d got the wind knocked out of me. I honestly, hand on heart, believed that one day he’d go back on tour one more time and I was willing to pay anything to get the chance to see him. I never in my wildest dreams thought he could die.

    I’d been waiting for Blackstar for so long and, as it was released on the 8th – the day before my birthday – had decided that it would be my birthday present to myself. A friend came over on the evening of the 8th for some pre-birthday drinks and I remember saying, ‘I’m just about to buy Bowie’s new album so we can listen to that tonight.’

    My friend looked at me with a blank face and said, ‘Who?’

    I remember saying, ‘Bowie? … David Bowie? … David Bowie!’ and he just had this mystified look on his face. He’d never heard of David Bowie! HOW does a Western 20-something year old not know who David Bowie is?

    Just before we put on Blackstar, I put on the ‘Best of Bowie’ album to see if my friend recognised any songs. He’d only heard of ‘Space Oddity’ because one of the characters on Friends had sung it. Complete facepalm moment but it ended up being a fantastic night. I sat there drinking wine, saying goodbye to my 28th year, and schooling my friend all about the legend that is David Bowie. And I absolutely loved Blackstar.

    And then, a few days later, that news came and it was just so sad. I felt like I was in such a funk for the next few days. I hadn’t realised how much losing one of my favourite musicians would affect me (and the world). Very sad but forever grateful that we’re the ones lucky enough to have been around for his music.

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  7. Thank you! I was sitting, waiting for one of my favourite TV shows to begin when I found out – my dad called with news, and (after realising that I didn’t know) asked to speak to my mum instead. As I watched her facial expressions, I somehow figured that someone had died, so I frantically Googled a number of musicians I admired. As I typed David’s name into Safari, a Sky News article appeared, carrying the news; I read it, in complete disbelief, convinced that it was all a hoax, that someone had hacked the Bowies’ social media. I scrolled through Instagram, panicking that it could actually be true, desperate for anything that would reveal it to be otherwise – but of course, it was. The horror, disbelief, heartbreak we all experienced that day is difficult to forget.
    2015 was such a great time to be a Bowie fan. I, too, had been waiting for ‘Blackstar’-the first news of it leaked overnight, so by the time I awoke that October morning, it was the first thing I saw as I opened my phone, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the pure excitement and joy I felt consequently; I read of ‘Lazarus’, thought of how incredible it sounded and hoped that, one day, it might come to Australia; I memorised and anticipated the release dates of his newest music clips, and made a point of watching (and like every other Bowie fan, trying to work out what they meant – they seemed so wonderfully confusing then) them the nights they came out; I preordered ‘Blackstar’ as soon as the opportunity arose. And when that article came out about how he’d never tour again, I, too, thought it was just – in true Bowie spirit – an elaborate publicity stunt, preparation for the revelation of a surprise tour. (I even remember discussing this with the owner of one of my favourite record stores, who agreed with me!) During those last few months, he was both prolific and entirely unpredictable, and to witness that was an incredible experience.
    What a ‘birthday present’ Blackstar would’ve been, for it is such an incredible album! It sounds like nothing else, bar none, and I feel it shows that both Bowie’s genius and relevance were a constant right until the end. Loved it. And that’s so odd about your friend, but at least he is aware, now!
    But then, a few days after the excitement of ‘Blackstar’ and his own birthday celebrations, this all happened. Who knew that the Bowie-greatness of 2015 would come to such an unexpected and sudden end? I, too, was so affected by the news, as if a close friend had died. I took for granted that he’d live into his ’70s, at least. Certainly didn’t expect that he’d go soon. It was all such an incredible shock. There have been few times in my life where I’ve been as sad and heartbroken. But as you say, we were so unbelievably lucky; our world, and so many of our lives, would’ve been so different if his magic hadn’t touched us the way he did. And we got to see him release some of his greatest material, too. The starman met us, and he blew our minds. So now, I guess, it’s time for the children to boogie…
    (Oh, and happy – belated – birthday! Hope you had a great day.)

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