Obituaries have an awful habit of becoming more about the writer than the deceased, but in the case of artists, this is okay. Self-observation is the prism through which the artist's light is reflected. This was never more true than David Bowie. He was both the most original personality and a nobody at the same time. His constant reinvention, destruction and rebuilding; his eventual acceptance of his own brand made him utterly indispensable to millions. Myself included.
It should come as no surprise to you that music is hugely influential on writing. One need only look at the legion of book titles that are lifted from song lyrics. For some writers, such as myself, music is a necessity. Certain songs are needed to invoke the exact right mood for a scene, to color the background and fill the room. Music works like sonar for me, pinging every aspect of shape and tone in a scene, literally mapping it out and allowing my characters to travel through the scene, always staying true to the emotional course I set with my music choice. Bowie is my captain.
- Nobody captured the inertia of depression like Bowie's 'Always Crashing in the Same Car'.
- For born-to-already-lost fatalism, there was 'Ashes to Ashes'
- Reveling in the beauty of a doomed relationship, struggling to keep it alive even as it gets farther away, there's 'Heroes'.
- 'Life on Mars' is the story of every misunderstood teen everywhere.
- For a straight-up desperate fight against long odds, the magnum opus 'Station to Station'.
It's a testament to the man that today feels empty. It's unseasonably mild up here but it finally feels like winter. Were this a movie, there would be a fantastic Bowie soundtrack to fill the scene with aching, longing and a dull pain surrounding a hole in my heart. But this isn't a movie, and life steams onward, forever in a world without him. We should not be surprised that cancer took him at 69. Some would say he was lucky. After all, the man spent most of the 70's subsisting on milk, hot peppers, cocaine and cigarettes. But something about him seemed invincible. He was supposed to live forever.
He's gone, but his music isn't. And it will inspire countless other artists, artists better and worse than myself. He will keep creating new art for a thousand years. His time is done, he has moved on. As he himself sung.
Farewell, Thin White Duke.