Thoughts on the Death of David Bowie

11 Jan 2016

While migrating saved blog posts in 2020, I came across this one; it is not currently on my old Blogger blog and I’m not sure if it ever was.

I should say something about Bowie. I got up this morning at 6 a.m., turned on the NPR news hourly news clip, and then immediately turned it off, somewhat stunned. I’ve been thinking I should say something about Bowie but it is quite a shock. Then of course during the course of the drive and my day at work, I have thought of a lot of things to say, but they all seemed to involve puns, or be too sarcastic.

So I’ll say this. I really admired Bowie. Part of the shock was that I guess I never quite believed that he was a mortal being. He always seemed just slightly extraterrestrial.

I’m not gonna say I really loved or understood every song, but I will say that he was an amazing artist, and amazing performer. He was always ahead of the culture. His new songs would always sound strange and unreal, and then a few years later you would realize he was just years ahead of his time. I’m still getting used to The Next Day — it is just out there.

He left such a huge body of work. There are a few artists who, I think, reach a point where their whole lives themselves become works of art. Laurie Anderson is one of those people to me. David Bowie is another. He made his life a true work of art and inspiration. He released an album something like two days before his death. The album is about death and features a song called “Lazarus” that starts with the words “Look up here, I’m in heaven.” I mean, seriously. That is the work of a hardcore artist, literally to the end.

I never met him or saw him perform live but once, years ago, I saw him on my college campus. He was there for the graduation of his son Duncan Jones (director of Moon). Jones had been there sort of undercover. Seeing him in person was surreal. Imagine walking down your street and bumping into Gandalf, or Dumbledore. He always seemed like that to me — just slightly too beautiful and radiating just slightly too much charm to be real.

But I’m sure his family is feeling the loss today and they know he was both real and mortal. It’s gonna take a long time to get over this one. And I have the feeling that losing my heroes is going to happen more and more to me and then at some point the losses will taper off, if I’m still here, and I will know that it is getting to be my turn to join them. I think that’s the real poignant part about losing childhood heroes.

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