Waking up this morning to the news that David Bowie passed away rattled music fans across the world. The theatrical and incomparable music icon died after an 18 month battle with cancer. He passed peacefully surrounded by family and friends in his New York home on Sunday.
It took us a while to put into words how much David Bowie to meant us as a musical genius who was also known as a master of reinvention and for his innovative showmanship. From David Jones to Ziggy Stardust, here is how David Bowie and his legacy has influenced and inspired The Young Folks.
It’s impossible to think about David Bowie’s death without thinking of Blackstar, the album he released just two days before he passed. It was another one of Bowie’s famous musical reinventions: The album has an expansive, jazzy avant garde pop feel with songs that contemplated mortality and other weighty themes which only took on their intended meanings after his death. Few seemed to pick up on those meanings when the album was released just a few short days ago. Perhaps we all assumed that mortality was just another musical theme that Bowie wanted to explore. While Bowie privately battled with cancer for 18 months, he made a concept album about about coming to terms with death that’s full message could not be imparted until after he had died. His final music video for “Lazarus” is so full of symbolism relating to his impending death that it’s astounding no one picked any of it up until he was gone. Bowie turned his death into a work of art! A brilliant final move from one of the most important cultural figures of the past 50 years.
As for my favorite Bowie songs, I’ll have to go with “Heroes”, “Always Crashing in the Same Car”, “John, I’m Only Dancing”, “Bring Me the Disco King”, “The Pretty Things are Going to Hell” and “All the Madmen”. It’s hard to pick just one.
He wasn’t human (in the conventional sense), so we have to get that correct right off the bat. Through various personas he’s had, ranging from the Goblin King to Ziggy Stardust, he aspired to be anything but the predictable. He was always true to himself and artistry that he never stayed too long within the confines of a single genre because he was constantly transcending them and creating new ones. His boundless fountain of originality and fearlessness in self-expression were only a few things I admired about the man legend. He will continue to be an inspiration to me and all those that refuse to let society dictate what they should be. Bowie was an ever-changing, constantly evolving entity whose avant garde visions made him not just one thing, but many. Although he was always breaking out of any mold he has cast for himself, there is one thing that he will always be: Missed. Rest in peace now Starman, and we will all try to live up to the example your life has set for us.
I’m not a massive David Bowie fan, but I am a fan. I am a fan his boldness, of not conforming to society’s standards. I am a fan of his creativity, of his desire to try new things. I am a fan what he stood for, like that time when he performed near the Berlin Wall with both sides of Germany listening to his music. I admire that he called out MTV for not playing black artists. I am a fan because he didn’t care about what people thought of him. I am a fan because he dared to be different and encouraged others to do so. Thank you for existing and sharing your gift with the world.
May you rest in peace. “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”
He always scared me when I was younger in Labyrinth. But, as I got older, he taught me to embrace my weirdness and show it to the world. He may not be physically immortal, but he’ll live on forever in the world of music.
From pop to theatre to avant garde, Bowie mastered it all with a stretch of success many would compare to The Beatles. But really, that’s not why this one hits even harder than Lou Reed. It’s what this chameleon meant to queerfolk through being himself and changing himself but always managing to be the coolest cat out there. And while glam rock was more a punk prelude about T. Rex and Mott the Hoople, Bowie is a black hole whose gravity sucks in all mention of the period and distorts it in space-time.
It was so weird waking up this morning to find out that a legend like Bowie was no longer with us, especially since this was already a week rife with Bowie. With the release of Blackstar on his birthday, a mere two days before his death, him leaving so quickly was about the least expected thing imaginable.
The first Bowie song I heard was “Heroes.” Particularly, the single version, which I’ve always detested for removing much of the song’s epicness and throwing us right in with the dolphins. After that, I discovered Ziggy Stardust and then Transformer, the Lou Reed album that’s also a Bowie album, which brings out the biggest strengths and weaknesses of each. It’s a mess, but a glorious mess, and one that had a major impact on teenage me.
But the songs that have stuck with me most are “Life on Mars?” and “Sound and Vision,” which are about as different as two songs can be musically. But both songs are undeniably Bowie, because despite all the ch-ch-ch-changes in sound, vision and concept, he was always true to himself, never afraid to turn and face the strange.
Very sad news, not only was he a master of his craft but fearless in his bravura. This is definitely someone anyone could aspire to be, if not in music, then in selfhood. It’s only after his death do I realize how he radically altered my callow and steadfast teenage conformity with his unforgettable sounds and bellowing poetry. “Changes” is probably my personal favorite of his, a sentimental choice but like with all great artists, the list is just endless.
David Bowie was an integral part of my musically education as a child. He was one of the musicians my mother played on long road trips to the beach much to my dismay even though with time I became more receptive. When I was ten, I heard Space Oddity for the first time, and I was instantly entranced by the other worldliness of the song. In sixth grade, my farther loaned me his Ziggy Stardust CD for a school trip. I was digging on that whole record from Alabama to Kentucky and back. What I absolutely loved about Ziggy Stardust was how surreal the storytelling was in each song, and again it had this other worldliness that just blew my mind. Over the years, I’ve taken a listen to a Bowie album every now and then, and Space Oddity still to this day is a musical trip for me every time I hear it. Bowie made some of the most interesting and compelling music I’ve ever heard. He will be sincerely missed.