The first time I remember hearing about David Bowie was from Kurt Cobain. Track 4 on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged in New York was Bowie’s “Man who Sold the World.” I’d never heard this song, nor of David Bowie, but I did enjoy it, and brought Bowie into my consciousness. (Many years later I recognized that a song my father had synched up as the music to a Seseme Street segment was “Space Oddity.”) A few years later a close friend of mine played “All the Madmen,” we listened to the track several times that afternoon while getting high. The themes of madness and conformity was especially evocative at that point in my life.
As I got older I became more aware of his work and his contributions, but he never became one of my “go-to” musicians. Even today, I have several friends who love him much more than I do, and are utterly devastated by this morning’s news. That being said, over the last several years I’ve developed great respect for Bowie’s life and work, and a deep appreciation for works such as The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, and I regret that I was not alive to personally witness the stage shows that, by all accounts, were daring and innovative works of music theater.
Today, Ziggy Stardust remains one of my favorite albums, and the song “Moonage Daydream” is perhaps my current favorite song. And as my knowledge of music and culture has grown in the last few years (and continues to grow), I see the power and influence that Bowie contributed to music and performance over the last several decades. Personalities such as Bowie do not come along often, and his death is saddening because I know he’s gone—he will write no more songs, he will give no more performances—but I’m also gladdened by the fact that his life shows us the greatness that can and does exist in human beings.
Goodbye Mr. Bowie, thanks for all the songs.