David Bowie was never irrelevant. That’s the one silver lining I can find for his untimely death at 69; that he died having just released a new album to critical acclaim and popularity. He went out on top. But he was always going to go out on top, because David Bowie pretty much defined what the top was for the last 40 years. That’s what I mean when I say he was never irrelevant.
It’s shown in the outpouring of grief and support we’ve seen since the announcement was made – Bowie had made an incredible impact on all sorts of people. Some people remember the fun dance music. Some people looked for new meaning in the rock music. Many are analyzing his recent alt rock work, especially the new Blackstar, which is now so clearly his fond farewell to all of us. I bet somebody’s playing Tin Machine.
He was bigger than the music, of course. How many will be watching Labyrinth tonight? Or The Man Who Fell to Earth? Maybe even The Prestige. He played himself amusingly in Zoolander and that Ricky Gervais show Extras. Not to mention parodies of him in shows like The Venture Bros. and references like that episode of Friends when Chandler sings “Space Oddity.” Seu Jorge’s covers of Bowie songs in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou make one of the best movie soundtracks ever. He was everything, everywhere.
Guys, I’m just lost here. This wasn’t supposed to happen. That new album just came out. It was just his birthday. KEXP just got finished playing Bowie all day. He was supposed to guest star on Hannibal and in the second Guardians of the Galaxy movie… Damnit.
I’ve never really wondered why I was such a David Bowie fan until now. I guess part of it is because he was such a big part of making “weird” cool. Bowie’s androgyny and bisexuality were emphasized, not downplayed. He sang about being a kook and not fitting in and all the things you hate about yourself as a kid and learn to love again as an adult. It’s been hard for me to admit that I relate to those struggles too, but then again I’ve always had this music.
I’m really struggling to write this post, I’m not sure I’ve got anything insightful for you. I did a retrospecticus on Bowie a few years ago, here’s part one. We did top 10 favorite songs of his too, here are mine, Colin’s, and John’s.
David Bowie was one of the most prolific artists of the last century and I’ll miss him very much.