Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie (1947-2016)

I didn't grow up with David Bowie.  I didn't come of age until the 1990's, and while during that time I managed to find room for Carole King, The Temptations, and Aretha Franklin in forming my personage, it wasn't until college, while playing (of all things) Guitar Hero that I would first encounter Bowie while strumming "Ziggy Stardust" over and over and over again.

This may sound a bit poser-ish.  After all, I was a child born in the 1980's learning about one of the great rock stars of the era through a video game, but you don't know when and where your artistic influences will come from, and I soon found myself playing Bowie's music every chance I had.  I would download songs and envelope into the night with his sharp, cutting voice.  It was not for nothing that I was coming out at that time, and like so many before me David Bowie was a voice that could speak to the misunderstood, glam rocker man inside every gay boy from a small town.  I remember standing in my dorm room dancing with my hands like I was in a Madonna video to Bowie's classic "Cat People," eventually getting into a shoulder tilting thrust when it came to the climactic "gasolllllllllline."

Bowie's influence on culture was profound, and we see it every day from Lady Gaga to unisex toys in your local Wal-Mart.  Bowie was like none before him-he didn't want to comply to the teen-dream rock stars of his era, the Elvis's or the Paul's.  Instead, he was a voice for those who were dying to get out into the world.  And man was he glamorous.  He ushered in a new era of androgyny, of sex and music that thrilled audiences around the world and then had the talent to make his songs timeless and continual.  You listen to something like "Fame" or "Under Pressure" today and you think that this is something that could easily pop up on the radio once again and be a hit.  Bowie's influence on culture and music itself was profound, and he was so ageless in appearance and voice that it felt like a tragic, cosmic slap in the face that cancer could rip him from us at only 69 years of age.  When he sang, Planet Earth may indeed have been blue and there was nothing we could do.  Thankfully, all we really wanted was to listen again, and David Bowie's music let us do just that.

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