This past Monday morning I arose from bed just in time to put on the morning news. I had barely stepped away from the radio before I heard a shocking report stating that David Bowie had passed away. What? They've got to be mistaken! I thought to myself. When I got on Facebook and saw the many tributes to the man pouring in from grieving fans however, I was forced to face the truth; David Bowie had indeed departed this world.
It's hard to describe what I felt. At first I scanned my memory wondering if I had ever actually bought any of his music, thereby helping him in some way. I had always loved his material and sometimes listened to it online, but had I ever actually bought any? Fame perhaps! I thought that I may have purchased that single. Still, I wasn't sure. I thought about the first time I heard his music. This, I remember clearly; Rebel Rebel was the first song I ever heard by him--and the lyrics, they talked about perversion but somehow he was making it okay.
My mind quickly went from the man's music to his legacy--how he had so often reinvented himself and had been so many things to so many people. Still, as I waded through the many tributes gracing the pages of Facebook and elsewhere, I realized that although his music was central to his success and his persona, perhaps his greatest contribution to the world was that he made whoever and whatever we are acceptable. David Bowie came on the scene and suddenly, is was okay to be a freak, okay to be gay, bisexual, feminine, punk, goth or whatever else a person happened to be.
Someone said that David Bowie probably saved a lot of people from committing suicide. I believe it, because in those old days people who were born different were ostracized and excluded from society in so many ways. How many people over the years, especially young people, after being told that they were aberrations and filled with self-loathing, decided to end it all? But when Mr. Bowie became popular and put his uniqueness on display for all to see, the isolated and self-loathing had someone they could rally around; they suddenly had community--and pride!
Film director, producer, screen writer and novelist Guillermo del Toro put it best when he recently said, "Bowie existed so all of us misfits learned that an oddity was a precious thing. He changed the world forever."
I can honestly say that I have never been filled with such a sense of loss when hearing about the demise of a celebrity as I have with the passing of this wonderful human being. In his song entitled Heroes, David Bowie sang, "We can be heroes just for one day."
Well David, you've done better than that. You'll be a hero forever! R.I.P.