Most of us didn’t know David Bowie personally. Bowie had never met us on the street, been a passenger in our automobiles, or shared a meal in our homes, at least not physically. Yesterday we lost a man of many faces, of reinvention; today I’m ready to talk about it.
I was born in 1987, twelve years after David Bowie had already established himself with his break through hit Fame in 1975, and he was a constant presence in our home on the screen, and the stereo. I can remember growing up tunes off of his glam rock album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. As a kid, you don’t know who the musician is but you know the sound, the voice, and the style.
Songs like Changes from Bowie’s 1971 album Hunky Dory would poor out of my father’s truck. He would park it in the yard and crank the radio while my brothers and I would help him with yard work on sweltering Saturday afternoons. The music was the only thing that got us through what could, only exist in a child’s mind, as forced labor.
86's The Labyrinth would also become a childhood staple, an adolescent date movie, and a regular film that I share with my wife. Bowie, who played Jareth the Goblin King, brought his unbelievable charisma, 80's hair, and pants that only his package could fill; simultaneously becoming every schoolgirl’s first fantasy and making ever boy wonder if one day we might fill pants with packages of our own. Only years later to realize that I wasn’t the package but the style and grace with which Bowie carried himself instead.
In the end, what David Bowie did best was teach us how to be fearless, unique, and ever changing. If Madonna is the Material Girl then Bowie most certainly was the Material Boy, constantly changing himself from Glam to Art Rock, to Pop, and everything in between. There’s a little bit of David Bowie in each of the lives he touched.
A little bit of Ziggy, of the Thin White Duke, A little Jareth, and the Man Who Sold the World.
In a way that sums up David Bowie the best. We didn’t know him professionally but behind those blue eyes, sharp jaw line, and ever changing hair we knew who he was.
I know who he was.
David Bowie was all of us, every person he ever inspired, and that’s how his legacy will live on.
Each and every time I put on my red shoes and dance.