I first heard David Bowie while watching the film “Detroit Rock City” well before I should have ( I was 10 or 11, and it’s definitely rated R). I was being babysat by older cousins who let me watch it. In one of the scenes, I heard a song in the background of a scene that stuck in my head.
That song was “Rebel Rebel” by David Bowie.
I managed to acquire the soundtrack, which opened me up to bands like KISS (obviously), Van Halen, Black Sabbath, The Runaways, Thin Lizzy, The Donnas, and David Bowie.
It opened a door to a world of music that helped me through those formative teen years of angst and feeling like an outcast. Anyone who has listened to Bowie’s music knows, there’s no one better to make you feel like you’re not alone.
I soon after purchased the album “Best of Bowie” which I listened to to the point of scratching it to high hell and having to buy it digitally. The hours spent driving around between the ages of 17 and 21 with that CD as my soundtrack are immeasurable, and irreplaceable. Even to this day my favorite getting ready song is “Rebel Rebel”. Listening to David Bowie gives one a sense of the infinite, of something so much more than what we are. There’s no other way to describe it. Just as he proclaimed:
“I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, “F**k that. I want to be a superhuman.”
Listening to him makes you feel that superhuman quality, and inspires a sense of personal freedom and expression in the listener.
So this morning, when I opened my social media and saw an onslaught of salutes, I instantly teared up. I texted my best friend, the biggest David Bowie fan I know, who confirmed that most devastating truth that he had passed away.
Immediately, my thoughts and heart went out to his family. It’s devastating to lose someone, and he was someone’s person.
I then thought about how much his music had impacted me. How he put something out that resonated deeply not just with me, but with people all over the world.
My best friend and I exchanged texts of sadness. I put on that CD as I got ready for the day. I topped off my professional work look with a line of green glittery eye liner. Today called for something a bit more fabulous, hopeful I wouldn’t cry it off during the day.
Anyone who doesn’t believe in the power of being true to oneself and the transcendence of that into artistic expression need not look any further than David Bowie’s music. He serves as a shining reminder to be who we are and not to water ourselves down. One of my favorite quotes of his was when he said:
“I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.”
“All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.” (Quotes via this Huffington Post article).
As someone who has long been fearful of sharing my writing (the stuff in the actual journals, not what’s written here) for fear of rejection, I think it time to mull over these words.
The grace and honesty that David Bowie has exuded over the years is a testament to his art and has touched countless lives throughout the world through that medium. I raise my words and my glass to his legacy and I am inspired to live as he did: true to myself through to the end.