I was on break at work today when my sister and father simultaneously texted me that David Bowie had passed away at the age of 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer. I was crushed. I was shocked. I was/am in denial. He just released an album. He just celebrated his birthday. I was starting to build up hope that maybe he would tour again after all. I got into David Bowie after he stopped touring and while I respected that decision I still held onto hope for that once in a lifetime chance.
I’m not sure if there are words for what that man means to me but I will try. I was introduced to David Bowie in middle school by my favorite band My Chemical Romance. They brought up David Bowie frequently in interviews and had covered Under Pressure with The Used. On a trip to the mainland I picked up Best of Bowie as a logical introduction and my life was changed. Who was this magical creature that could sing of such fantastical worlds with such a grip on real conflict and emotions? Who was this unapologetic stage performer who gave the middle finger to gender roles and colouring inside the lines? He was everything I needed as a weird, angry, performance artist of a teenager and I dove in head first.
David Bowie was common ground at my house. My father loved rock and roll, my mother preferred gospel music, and I loved rock and metal (especially of the glam variety). While I never could get them into Demon Hunter or Semi Precious Weapons we could all agree that David Bowie was a musical staple in the house and in the car. The more I read about him and the more albums I listened to (The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars will always have a special place in my heart) the more I fell in love. David Bowie was my first example of someone I didn’t want to be but someone who showed me it was still okay to be me. Unapologetically and skillfully.
Caitlin Moran recently wrote an article 10 Things Every Teenage Girl Should Know and number 9 has been on my mind since his birthday just a few days ago. “When in doubt, listen to David Bowie. In 1968, Bowie was a gay, ginger, bonk-eyed, snaggle-toothed freak walking around south London in a dress, being shouted at by thugs. Four years later, he was still exactly that- but everyone else wanted to be like him, too. If David Bowie can make being David Bowie cool, you can make being you cool. PLUS, unlike David Bowie, you get to listen to David Bowie for inspiration. So you’re one up on him, really. YOU’RE ALREADY ONE AHEAD OF DAVID BOWIE.”
David Bowie gave us queer kids a stable rock in our small town seas. He showed us it was okay to be weird and to dance anyway. He was an amazingly talented and created individual. Part of me wants this all to be a stunt. If he came back two weeks from now I wouldn’t even be mad. No matter if this was really the end of a legend or just another Bowie moment, thank you.
To leave things on a light note, check out the website http://www.supbowie.com and type in your age to see what David Bowie had accomplished by the time he was your age. Go back to the Moran quote and know that we’re all in this together.