Today, I had the surreal experience of learning of the death of someone who before today I was just about aware off, whose work as a musical performer I knew little about as I had convinced myself I wasn’t interested in his sort of music. Given the many tributes from the good and the great from across the world to an extensive mix of my Facebook friends, representing many varied interests, I feel chastened. Wikipedia says: “David Robert Jones (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016), known as David Bowie, was an English singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter and actor. Bowie was a figure in popular music for over four decades, and was known as an innovator, particularly for his work in the 1970s. His androgynous appearance was an iconic element of his image, principally in the 1970s and 1980s“
What became clear as I read the many tributes to this man was how his life and work impacted many from around the globe and whose loss was acutely felt. My lack of awareness of his artistic contribution says more about me than anything else but as I began to read various tributes and listen to some of his music I can get how much he has contributed to the world of music. One of my friends remarked that his song titled “Heroes” was his favorite and having listened to it, I can see why (I later found out this song helped inspire a generation of Germans to pull down the Berlin Wall). Another friend made the point that it was not just his music but his creativity he admired. I listened to one clip of him paying a moving tribute to a musical friend who had died of AIDS and then leading in prayer, thus marking him out in my book as somebody special. Yet another friend commented “it’s utterly heartbreaking. Bowie has moulded so many of us into who we are”, and it dawned on me why he was admired by so many. I sense one reason was that David Bowie was the archetypal “his own man” who had inspired a generation to be themselves and to achieve greatness. One other thing, and there are many other things that could be said about this man of many parts, is the nature of his departing from this earthly scene. Few outside his close circle would have known prior to his death the battle he had been having with cancer, for such was the dignity of the man not to divulge such matters. His last album only recently released may well be his parting legacy. I found his song Lazarus hauntingly poignant and touching. There will be those who will describe David Bowie as a legend. I would not want to disagree.
I feel a little hypocritical writing up about someone who before today I had hardly given a second thought. However, given my nearly two year career as a blog writer, using my blogging to commentate on various things happening around me, things that are in my view significant and particularly relate to the times we live in. I feel I am justified in doing so. Besides people I knew dying around me at increasing regularity, there are those I don’t know, who have made a profound impact on me in my lifetime and often over many years. While David Bowie does not fall into any of those categories, the fact that through his art form and in the unique way he conducted himself, he impacted the lives of my diverse group of friends, I feel is enough to warrant my short tribute. I have no doubt that, like many we hero worship, he was a flawed character but, all that aside, what he contributed to his craft was extraordinarily special and he had an amazing number of strings to his bow.
He was a monumental talent, a creative genius and not a little enigmatic, but the sort of guy I would have liked to meet. He was a one-off original and very human. RIP David Bowie and thank you!