I was both shocked and saddened by the news that musician David Bowie had died on January 10th at the age of 69 from cancer. While I would not say that I was a huge fan of his, I definitely enjoyed listening to his music.
“Visionary” is a word that gets thrown around with great frequency; “unique” is another. But in the case of David Bowie those two descriptions very much applied. He wrote and performed numerous amazing songs over a career that spanned nearly half a century. Bowie also devised so many incredible, bizarre, innovative looks for himself throughout the years. He was undoubtedly one of a kind.
My girlfriend Michele is a longtime fan of Bowie. She created a very nice tribute to him on her own blog.
For me, on Monday my thoughts kept returning to Bowie’s awesome 1995 song “Hallo Spaceboy,” the lyrics and tune playing in my head. Co-written by fellow music pioneer Brian Eno, the song features a collaboration between Bowie and the duo of Neil Tenant & Chris Lowe, aka the Pet Shop Boys. I cannot recall if I’ve mentioned it here before, but the Pet Shop Boys are one of my all time favorite music groups. So it was a genuine thrill to hear them performing with Bowie, a bona fide rock god.
Of course, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention another collaboration of Bowie’s, namely “Under Pressure” which he recorded with Queen in 1981. Bowie and Freddie Mercury singing together was magnificent.
A good example of the massive cultural impact that David Bowie had can be seen in the Doctor Who universe, of all places. Last year in the comic book series The Eleventh Doctor, writers Al Ewing & Rob Williams and artist Simon Fraser introduced a character who was very much an homage to Bowie.
The Doctor takes his companion Alice back in time to London 1962 to see the debut performance of John Jones, a legendary rock star. Much to Alice’s dismay, Jones turns out to have zero stage presence and even less charisma. However the drab wannabe-musician ends up accidentally joining the Doctor and Alice in the TARDIS. As the year-long story arc progresses, Jones in majorly influenced by all of the strange, otherworldly places he visits with the Doctor and Alice. By the time he returns back to 1962, Jones is ready to embark on a revolutionary music career.
Of course, in real life David Bowie was even cooler than that. He didn’t need to travel through all of time & space in order to come up with his amazing music and cutting-edge looks.
Despite his illness, Bowie was active right up until the very end. Blackstar, his twenty-fifth and final studio album, was released on January 8th, his birthday, a mere two days before his death.
Bowie’s passing has gotten me thinking. At 69 years he wasn’t exactly young, but neither was he very old. It’s a sobering reminder that you never know how much time you will actually have.
For a few months I’ve already been considering devoting my energies towards writing fiction. I dabbled in it when I was in my early 20s. Over the last three years I’ve been working out an idea for a novel in my head. Maybe now is the time to finally commit. After all, I’m going to be 40 years old in June. It just doesn’t seem like a good idea to keep procrastinating at this point. I’ll still keep this blog going, perhaps switching between it and my fiction on alternate weekends. I just don’t want to put off my dream until it’s too late.
In any case, my thanks go out to David Bowie for all of the wonderful music he created. He will definitely be missed.