On the morning that David Bowie passed, I woke up in my bed to an overflow of social media. Facebook always seems to be the first to break the news...
I, as many others around the world, could not believe it. Only yesterday I had hung posters on my wall of a vintage Bowie advertisement: David Bowie Plays Stylophone on 'Space Oddity'.
And only two days earlier, and on his 69th birthday, Bowie had released his final album "Blackstar".
Stunned, I went through the motions on that Monday's morning and walked to class. It was the first day of a new semester. It has been a habit of mine, for some time now, to listen to Bowie on the way to class. That morning it was different.
How and why and bittersweet thoughts and strength and sadness and confusion and inspiration and loss and pride. A lot of pride. Emotions flooded my body, as they do now, tingling inside. I felt special because of him, we all felt special because of him. We were graced to be alive in the same time that such a man had made. He sculpted our futures, he built bridges through our lives, thoughts, and cultures.
The snow's white light was reflected a bit more than normal on January 10th, 2016.
Bowie's death only really hit me when I was laying in bed that night and stared at the posters next to me. I shed tears. I know I was not alone, the world ached at his passing.
I am envious that I was not in the UK at that time, sharing the celebrations of his life.
It is an interesting effect, loving someone whom you never have met. Not sexually attracted, although we all probably were at some point, but more in love with his great mind and his ability to change not only his image, but also what it meant to create, perform, and present.
On a drive back home from a recording session in London, Ontario, I was lucky enough to catch the second half of a beautiful tribute to David Bowie by Alan Cross, aired on FM 96 London's Best Rock. Cross discussed "Blackstar" and played the third song off the album, "Lazarus".
"Look up here, I'm in heaven."
Eerie, comforting, beautiful, and horrible. What is the magic? How do words have a such a spell that they can take over your mind and drag you into the deepest parts of your heart? In such a moment, I was farther away from ever meeting this man, yet I felt closer than ever before.
The tears ran, the emotions flooded. I sobbed.
I had been subconsciously avoiding listening to "Blackstar". Every time I began the record I was conveniently distracted from the darker sound, which now turns out to be a final message to us all.
What was I afraid of hearing?
Was I afraid of dissatisfaction, as this was his final record? (On another more rational note, how could you ever be dissatisfied with Bowie?)
I do not think that we, as listeners, will ever be completely satisfied with his leaving. Not because of his final production, but for more selfish reasons. For wanting Bowie to live on and create forever.
In a sense, he does.
Such a bittersweet part of his death was the fact that he never stopped making. Bowie created art until his very last day. He is still having his effect on us, painting the sky a bit more blue and making our hearts beat in weird and sometimes frightening ways that he himself had introduced to us years before.
What a way to go.
Tributes are difficult. How does one honor someone so prolific without accidentally doing him an injustice? We, as a human collective (and from stars beyond), are in love with David Bowie and always will be. He has inspired culture as an entity. What hasn't Bowie touched?
David Bowie was our hero and will be for much, much more than just one day.
If you get the chance, do yourself a favor and listen to the podcast by Alan Cross. He gives a brilliant perspective on Bowie's life and death. Currently, the particular one I had mentioned above is not available for streaming online but you might be able to catch a rebroadcast of the show on one of these Canadian radio stations.
If you want hear more, I also recommend these podcasts about Bowie:
Google also works great too...