If you are in the neighborhood of my age, it is not possible that David Bowie passed you by. Waking up to the news of his death, I felt as dismayed and incredulous as when, a lifetime ago, still in high school, the news of John Lennon’s shooting made the rounds faster than even Twitter could imagine.
There are artists whose contribution transcends the collective and seeps into the personal. Not many, but those who do have a paved highway to immortality. I am who I have become also because I spent hours listening to some man who fell to earth, whose message wasn’t entirely clear but who made me believe anything was possible. The realization of the musical and technical brilliance came much later: at the beginning, it was just the impetus of looking at life through a different lens.
There are artists whose private life we don’t care much about, because what their art gives us is enough to satisfy all cravings. When, on a trip to London, barely out of my teens, I made a pilgrimage to a white house I was told was Bowie’s, it wasn’t in the hope of snapping a selfie, but to feel closer to greatness. When I briefly met him, many many years later, on a tv show in Paris, there was nothing I really wanted to say or know. Expressing my gratitude was enough.
It’s touching to read a tribute from Yoko Ono, reminding us of the man behind the art, the man who would pick up Sean Lennon from boarding school in Switzerland to take him to the museum or to let him hang out in his recording studio.
We are not left with any personal memories of the man, just the memories of the part he played in shaping our youth and maybe a part of our life. More than just a soundtrack.
To me, Suzanne Moore, a columnist for the Guardian, put it best “My David Bowie is not dead. Nor ever can be. What he gave to me is forever mine because he formed me. […] in the years when I was trying to become myself, he showed me the endless possibilities.”
Mr. Bowie, from Sue and I, thank you.
There are too many favorite songs so, in case you haven’t heard it yet, I picked “Lazarus”, from the newly released album “Blackstar”. Another classic – haunting lyrics.