It is a gift when you can provide meaning to so many.
I, like millions of others, was surprised and upset to learn that David Bowie passed away yesterday. I, also like millions of others, never knew him and felt a sort of relative sadness that I hadn’t felt for other celebrities with recent passings.
Maybe it’s my perception, but it seems that the conversation on social media around David Bowie has been beyond what I would have expected with so many people sharing their thoughts – even more so, than say when Robin Williams passed away. Maybe it’s because Bowie kept his illness to himself and closest confidants and in this age of “news as it’s happening”, we had a real shocked reaction to something tragic after it was too late, rather than as it was occurring.
I listened to a few interviews from the past couple of decades and it is clear that David Bowie was a true artist and non-conformist in many ways, but it is also clear that he was simply a man with love for art and work. Who really knows what he meant to his wife, children and closest family and friends? What is clear, however, is that Bowie, his music, his art or a combination therein did mean something to millions over long periods of time.
And here is where I think the collective sympathy lies on hearing of the news of Bowie’s death – the meaning. Much like recalling where we may have been during historic events both good and bad (Nixon’s resignation, Diana’s wedding and death, 9-11, or learning that a loved one was about to become a parent), David Bowie seems to be attached to great meaning – and in a very positive way – to so many people’s lives.
For me, it was just remembering listening to “old” Bowie in my first apartment after college, alone, realizing that there was so much more than his 1983 “Let’s Dance” album. I must have replayed “Hero’s” dozens of times. For others it is around a concert, a relationship, and the list goes on and on. And throughout all of this, he was David Bowie. Truthfully, little is known about Bowie beyond the artist unlike the incessant reality-driven world of today’s celebrities. That’s the way it should be because we then get to place meaning to the artist, to the music and to the time in a way that reflects and embodies what we need it to when we need it to. I can’t imagine that one will be able to say the same of the Beebs.
Until next time,