Back around 1995 or so, in my early college years, I went over to a friend’s house and sat down on the couch next to him. He was watching a documentary about David Bowie.
I didn’t listen to much music as a kid, and I grew into an adult that doesn’t listen to much music, either. Back then, I didn’t have the slightest idea who Bowie was. After watching this documentary for about 45 seconds, I made some sort of snide comment about this person on the screen. Just shooting my mouth off. I probably said something about how this guy was obviously just a attention whore, and a garish, desperate one at that.
My friend, who knew a *lot* about music turned to look at me for a long moment. And while he didn’t look at me in disgust… well… his expression was a close cousin to disgust.
“Dude,” he said. “David Bowie is you. If you had money and talent,” he hesitated for a moment, looking me over, then added. “And style.”
At the time, the comment did what it was meant to do: it put me in my place and shut me up. Later in my life, I took it as a huge compliment, even if my friend hadn’t meant it that way.
Today, I just learned that Bowie died. I’ve been thinking about him, and reading about what people are saying about him online. And here’s the truth: Bowie didn’t have a huge impact on my life. I’ve never owned one of his albums, or even listened to one of them all the way though. (Like I said above, I came to music late in my life, and .)
But I always was glad he was out there, doing his thing. Looking at the two of us, at our lives or our careers, there’s not much similar there. But I like to think we were on the same team. That we were fighting the same fight.
As to what that fight is… well… that’s hard to articulate. Every time I try to simplify it, it doesn’t sound right. This particular sentiment doesn’t lend itself well to slogans, but “Get down with your bad self” and “Let your freak flag fly” come pretty close.
In an odd connection, as I write this, I find myself thinking of John Green’s phrase, “Imagine me complexly.” I think that Bowie was the crystallized embodiment of that concept. He defies simplistic reduction. It is impossible to think of him in a simple way.
(Also, John. If you’re reading this, I think you’d be a great Bowie for Halloween some year. You should really consider it.)
That’s all. I don’t really have a point here. No thrilling conclusion. No narrative arc. No anagnorisis. Just musings.
Be good to each other, people.