I never considered myself a “Bowie expert” or one of his crazy fans. Of course I have danced to Modern Love countless times, and cried over Heroes (with or without the overwhelming backdrop of The Perks of Being a Wallflower), and experienced Wild is the Wind on endless car drives . But always it was more like Bowie was coming into my life rather than me investigating his. Yet every time I read about him, listened to his inspiring songs or his witty interviews, I could feel his influence on me. When I first heard about his death I was sad, but at the same time I felt that I wasn’t as ‘entitled’ to grief as the people who grew up with his music. But the sadness didn’t go away; I wasn’t able to concentrate, and couldn’t help listening to the songs that everyone was posting on social media. Because there was something else about David Bowie. Something that made NASA name a mile-wide space rock after him that “orbits serenely in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter”. Something that made him orchestrate the production and release of Lazarus, his final gift to us, around his own death. Something that now makes us all reflect upon time, our losses, our loves, ourselves. That deep respect about this extra-terrestrially inspiring friend. The respect that is affirmed both by one’s life and death.
David Bowie was a visionary, a bright star but not only that. He was an amazing mind, faithful to itself. It is mostly his inspiring love of life that I am grieving and celebrating. His indelible trace and tremendous influence not only on music and performance, but also on our worldview. David Bowie was a genius, and I am lucky to have lived contemporary to him, and to now see his influence is still current and ongoing. He was as demystified as a phenomenon can be.
A friends said, “imagine how devastating it must be for all the people that met him”. I cannot imagine how lucky they were, and how painful it must be for them. Although, I think that our sadness and grief goes beyond his fascinating artistic output, because in a sense we’ve all met parts of him. Or rather, he definitely made us meet with our oddities. He exposed and enhanced our uniqueness, and as a true artist he influenced music and the world forever, showing us how to make life’s futility into fuel.
All this occupied my mind, and the morning after news broke, led me to visit his childhood home in Brixton. When I arrived there was a couple in their fifties, hugging quietly in front of the tributes. They wiped their discreet tears and went back to their car. While I was standing I saw some neighbours staring with both confusion and compassion. On the ground were letters, dolls, pictures, flowers, candles. I wanted also to leave something, but the urgency to visit this place that was haunting me had made me forgot to bring a tribute object. I searched through my pocket and found an opened party popper from New Year’s Eve. That was it. I knew that he would appreciate this gift. That is exactly what Bowie have achieved; people from different backgrounds, ages, classes and routines, finding a common ground, a bond that would lead them to his house, to his mural, to his music. Thank you David.