RIP David Bowie
In a lot of ways, I’m really not sure there’s anything else for me to write…I am certain I can hardly do David Bowie, of all people, any sort of justice with my writing…but I will try.
I was just tweeting with someone about David Bowie last week. We had watched “Lazarus”, which oddly enough, I found to be one of the most artful videos I’ve seen in a very long time. (No, that doesn’t mean that I think “Pressure Off” is terrible, or that it’s not art. That’s ridiculous!) The video is haunting, and scary, and I thought about it for days afterward. The figure of Bowie in his bed, a hand reaching from under the bed in a sort of grim reaper fashion, The way we are looking down upon him or he upon us…the video is filled with all sorts of imagery and is definitely an allegory. Who really knew, besides Bowie, that Lazarus would be his goodbye – his parting video shot – at the world? Genius.
The person I was tweeting with at the time had met Bowie, and very much considers him a hero. I pondered that, having read many times over the years that meeting your heroes or idols was always a let down. I highly doubt that I’d have felt that way upon meeting David Bowie…or members of Duran Duran for that matter. They are people I very much admire. Fallible, beautifully gifted, wonderfully flawed, people. I thought about that as I read with wonder about this person’s experience. I really appreciate reading stories about someone meeting their hero – it’s that fandom researcher in me, I suspect.
There’s really no huge point to this little story aside from the fact that I think to at least some extent, Bowie was to Duran Duran what Duran Duran is to their own fans. I might add, it is heart-wrenching to see idols lose their own hero.
So with that in mind, today’s news – which naturally I didn’t read about until about 8 hours after it was announced, thanks to Pacific Standard Time – must be incredibly sad and devastating to Duran Duran. Nick shared the following on duranduran.com:
“He fed us pure inspiration, beautifully strange and always unpredictable, yet somehow everything made perfect sense. No other musician was more influential for our generation.
David was a pioneer, an inventor, a space traveller, a superhero, a truly astonishing songwriter and a friend.
It’s hard to imagine that any artist will ever leave more musical and cultural treasure behind.
Thank you for letting us share your journey DB. We’ll miss you more than you’ll ever know.”
– Nick Rhodes, London, January 11, 2016
Beautiful words. Far better than I could have strung together at such a time, to be sure.
Once again, I found myself tweeting with someone this morning as I sat staring at Twitter saying, “Nooooo….couldn’t be.” This person, who I am hoping doesn’t mind being anonymously quoted (if you’re reading, your words were perfect. I had to include them.) “[Bowie had] the capacity to change who he was without losing his personality…The main inspiration Bowie left others is that change is not only good, it is essential to artistic survival.”
Ever have a light bulb go on so brightly you can’t help but notice what you’d been failing to see all along? It was that moment for me this morning. Admittedly, I never made that connection with Bowie and Duran Duran. (I miss things. Obvious things, sometimes…because I’m too busy reading between the lines!) For all of the strife involved every time Duran Duran puts out a new album and the core fan base has to readjust their thinking, you can’t help but admire them for taking that cue from Bowie. And today they mourn his passing. Idols saying goodbye to their own idol, or hero. We look to Duran Duran, as we always do, for some way to trudge forward. Nick’s words were a comfort (as they typically are). Yet I feel like we should be consoling them. In the same turn, I realize that if they feel even half as strongly about Bowie as we do them, there is little that can be done to console.
So, as is also typical, I turn to the music. I re-watch “Lazarus”, trying to see the message that is clearly being left behind. What once haunted me now has me captivated. Of course it is a goodbye. Of course Bowie is trying to tell us his time is limited and that this is his final parting message.
As my Twitter friend eloquently stated, the inspiration that was left behind will live on through artists like Duran Duran. The ability to completely reinvent himself without losing his personality – the essence of what David Bowie really IS or WAS – will live on and continue to inspire.
What a gift.