Today, we lost our Starman, our Ziggy, our Hero - Punk Out mourns David Bowie's passing, and we remember him with some words and a few spins of well-worn records.
I grew up surrounded by David Bowie. My mom loved him, my best friend’s mom loved him, and in turn, I loved him. I still do. I remember long car rides screaming along to songs from Ziggy Stardust. I remember learning how to do my makeup and trying to imitate the infamous lightening bolt over the eye. I remember hyping up his newest release, Black Star, just this weekend…
Celebrity deaths are always sad, but they’ve never really hit me the way Bowie’s passing is hitting me today. I’ve always sort of viewed him as immortal – as someone who transcended human existence in a weird way, so it’s hard to really process that he’s gone. Because aside from musical impact, shaping both my taste and the tastes of the artists I’ve grown to know and love throughout my short lifetime, Bowie has helped to shape me as a physical being. I grew up a tomboy, and Bowie helped me feel like I fit in. He made androgyny sexy and proved that gender isn’t binary. He was bold, he was daring, and he was innovative. He was everything I wanted to be and more. His influence and creativity will live on forever, so maybe in a way, he really is immortal. Maybe he really does transcend human existence…
They say heroes get remembered, but legends never die. Both of those apply in this case, so I will be bumping The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars extra loud today to ensure that Bowie gets remembered, but also to remind myself that his music never dies.
Rest in peace, Mr. Bowie. Thank you for everything.
Of the many things I thought I would write about, David Bowie’s death was never ever one of them. Upon reading the news this morning, my first instinct was to declare it a hoax and hope against hope that when I checked Twitter that I would be proven right. That’s how it feels when you lose someone you never met but looked up to as a guiding light – it’s not real. That’s what you tell yourself because the man that brought us Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke and Aladdin Sane isn’t really gone – he will never really be gone.
I first heard David Bowie in the back of my parents’ car as a young child when he collaborated with Freddie Mercury and Queen on “Under Pressure,” which grew to become one of my favorite songs. I would learn more of him growing up, introducing myself to his classics – “Ashes to Ashes,” “Let’s Dance,” “Cat People,” and “Diamond Dogs,” to name a few; but it wasn’t until I came out that I began to understand Bowie rather than just hear him. When I came out I had very little to hold on to except my love for music, art, and the ability to find beauty in things that otherwise would be ugly. I felt ugly inside myself, but when I heard Bowie, I felt like I was worth living. It might sound cliché, but the one track of that beautiful, weird genius that kept me going was his hit, “Heroes.”
“We can be heroes, just for one day.”
It kept me going; his music fed my soul and gave me hope that if I kept holding onto something I would be alright - that I would survive and get through it. Bowie and Reznor, Bloc Party and Fightstar were my semi colon. I wanted to stop but the power and beauty of their music kept me swimming against the waves of depression and anxiety that wanted to hold me back and drown me in their darkness. Ziggy didn’t let that happen. He led the charge and his melodies and lyrics, as bizarre and otherworldly as they were, enriched my world and colored in the grey bits.
I have lost a friend. We have all lost a friend. We have said goodbye to our greatest poet, our most imaginative dreamer, an inspirational innovator, a storyteller, a mad man, a magician, and a legend. I wish I could have told him that he helped me save myself from the heartache and despair of a lonely adolescence, but I’ll now never get that chance. So if you’re reading this, join me in celebration of the life of a man that was only really ever visiting us. Look up to the stars and play his music as loud as you can tonight.
I didn’t have much experience with David Bowie growing up. Or I did, but didn’t realize it. To me, many of Bowie’s songs were songs I would hear for years and years and never knew who sang them. I’m still realizing today how many of his songs I enjoyed without knowing much or anything about him. I’m playing an old, crackling vinyl copy of Changes as I write this. I saw him appear as himself in Zoolander, and that random but cool performance as Nikola Tesla in The Prestige. At 23, I finally saw Labyrinth. Bowie has sort of always been everywhere, and he’s been amazing at everything he’s attempted to do.
Besides writing and performing countless songs that were equally enjoyable and musically inspirational, Bowie has been this wonderfully unconventional force in music. Consider his songs that have been covered and remade, and his undeniable influence in rock n’ roll, and the fact that for decades he stood out from his peers with non-binary style and fashion – he stood tall as something different and unique, showing all of us that we don’t have to fit a standard.
I’m still learning just how much of an impact he has made on the world, but I know for sure that we’ll never have another David Bowie.
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