Farewell David Bowie.
I was having dinner with friends at a restaurant last night when my sister showed us a message on her phone to say you had passed away.
A look of disbelief struck our table. Jaws dropped. Had you not just realised an album a few days earlier?
The quick realisation and a quick look at Facebook revealed you had been battling cancer for over a year. It was reassuring to read you had your loved ones around you, but the shock around your loss has been profound.
The tributes on the news and social media are a constant reminder of the impact you have had on people. My sister was in tears. Many of my friends are sharing their favourite songs and memories online. Twitter hashtags are populating your name. Your hometown of Brixton have set-up a memorial around the neighbourhood.
As a child I didn’t know you or your music very well. China Girl was probably the first song I heard, the oriental beat and echoing lyrics lingering in my mind. During the 90s I remember hearing Nirvana’s unplugged version of ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ and I was entranced by the lyrics and melodies. Oh how I wanted to play the riff too.
Years later I stumbled across my sister’s CDs and explored your music. What unusual, alien sounds they were! Yet there were also other songs that were wistful, strong and lyrical. My favourite songs of yours are ‘Sorrow’, ‘Absolute Beginners’ and ‘The Man Who Sold the World’.
As I got to hear more of your music, I came to appreciate your creativity and ability to take risks. I love the fact you took on different personas and pushed the boundaries of sexuality and gender. The alien and sense of alienation spoke to the part of me that knows what it feels like to feel different and misunderstood. It also reaffirmed the idea that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being eccentric, and merely being me. If only we could became more comfortable with our weirdness and idiosyncrasies, imagine how tolerant this world would be.
Today I feel reflective in light of your passing. There is a calm yet slightly sad feeling in my heart. The tributes are overflowing and I’m learning more about you and the way you embraced music, diversity and creativity.
Is there life on Mars? Why not.
Rest in peace and may you continue to inspire all of us on earth.