Thought we had a good trip. Overnight, pop-cultural legend – seriously, he did everything from acting to writing to performance art and especially making music – David Bowie died after a quiet 18-month battle with cancer. Gonna break character here and say that this particular editor has been up all night crying about the news, because a world without Bowie is actually a world without a sun or a moon in some manner, at least for me. I haven’t slept all night, nor have many of those out there, the young dudes, the kooks, the moonage daydreamers. Losing one of our generation’s largest, most intelligent influences is no small pill. Our sympathies, of course, lie with his family. Our feelings, however, lie on the ground in shards.
For those who don’t know of Bowie’s influence, his declarations of open- (or bi-) sexuality in the ’70s helped to break down stereotypes and blur the colors that we currently embrace as our spinning swirl of humanity. His embracing of androgyny was the reason we had a Culture Club, a Duran Duran or even a new-wave movement at all. He freed suburbanite children from their khakis and painted honesty on their faces instead. It is no overstatement to say that Bowie’s absence from this world is huge or that his presence while he was here was as phenomenal as the “Starman” we came to embrace. There are plenty of eulogies out there, riding through transoms as the sun rises on Jan. 11, so we’ll keep ours short.
On Friday, his 69th birthday, Bowie released what was to be his own eulogy, Blackstar. In its ominous seven tracks lie the clues to his goodbye, ever so graciously layered with horns and circumstance, ending with the track, “I can’t give everything away.” And though it may seem that, through his many years of punching boundaries in the face while smearing his own lipstick, he did give it all away, nobody really knew the thin white duke was suffering so badly. And, with cancer, it probably wouldn’t have mattered if we did. He sent Blackstar out as a goodbye, and now we all know it. Reminiscent of the “Five Years” timbre of his 1972 masterpiece the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust – at least then, he was faking his death – the new record approached the cornering of disease as it closes in on death.
Below are some of our favorite Bowie tracks, beginning with “Lazarus,” the prophetic call to glory that was just released last week. If you have a minute, revel in the rebel that made our lives – especially LGBT lives – better. All the fat skinny people and all the nobody people. RIP to the King. The world suffers without you.
Jump They Say:
Life on Mars?: