Why Is it Different When Bowie Dies?


davidbowiemoonlightI’m willing to bet that almost all of us who claim to like rock music have, at one point or another, perused David Bowie’s catalog. His output is intimidating as well, and Bowie’s discography comes with the added caveat that almost everything is at least worth listening to. They’re not all Hunky Dory, but Bowie has very few outright bad moments. Unlike, say, The Rolling Stones (who you may want to avoid altogether after 1981), Bowie had a way of twisting with the wind, drifting onto a new, cutting edge idea in the precise millisecond before it became cool. Whether it was glam, industrial (his album Low basically codified the modern genre) or any number of other styles, Bowie managed to bring it to the masses.

And with each metamorphosis, the former David Jones slipped further away from becoming knowable, to fitting into an archetype. The type of stock character that he represented was “The David Bowie,” who is defined by his lack of definition. Because he never slips into a well-worn trope, the rules never become clear. Nothing ever becomes old hat, because everything seems brand new. You can’t really say that Bowie has aged out of his stage persona. He has had so many that it wouldn’t even be clear which “phase” you were talking about.

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Me, I like vaguely fascist Bowie, but that’s neither here nor there.

Why does this death sting so much? Is it possible that, because Bowie seemed to grow with the musical landscape (as opposed to pushing against it), he became more of a fixture in our lives? Were we so used to seeing him, to hearing about him, that we became foolish enough to think he’d always be there?

Everything ends. If you’re looking for it, you can see a reminder of that every day. That’s why recorded music is so important. Can you imagine trying to explain David Bowie to your children without the aid of music?

So, we rock on, and we see his influence shining through in the massive, interconnected tapestry that is popular music. We listen to all the shit we can get our hands on, and we try to find the next nazz. We’ll know him when we see him.

The earth is a bitch
We’ve finished our news
Homo Sapiens have outgrown their use

Photo By Jorge Barrios (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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3 comments to “Why Is it Different When Bowie Dies?”
  1. It stung to me because I have always been on the outside. And at an early age bowie was there…flying his freak flag high. He expressed who he was without fear. And he made it ok for anyone who paid attention to him. R.i.p
    David. Welcome home

  2. You lost me when you dissed the stones. Why do you do that? Does that make bowie any more wonderful? No, just makes you look like an ass.

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