I just got word that the inimitable David Bowie, a bright star of rarified elemental signature, has faded from the firmament of the living; a man who had long become immortal in the only way humans can, has, like his creation, Major Tom, slipped through the door of his tin can free of his suit.
To call Mr. Bowie’s iconic form a tin can is ridiculous, of course, because to the day he died, and in the minds of a generation or more, he will be a living palette, a dauphin of androgyny, the most adept and commanding of Chameleons.
Amid the rolling swell of feelings his death brings this morning, the only estimation of his influence– personally as much as culturally– that I can articulate is an acknowledgment of just how inestimable it is.
I wasn’t a rabid fan. But I owned a few of this albums over the years. Yet I held him in that sort of respect with which one regards a force she knows she will never understand. That slight, regal frame held something Big, which seemed to metabolize humanness into something bigger.
When I got word, I googled for confirmation, and found the first of three links I offer in impromptu commemoration:
Found on a BBC news site this morning is the video of astronaut/ musician Chris Hadfield’s rendition of “Space Oddity,” as he orbited the earth. It gave me chills.
(Hadfield’s Ted Talk on going blind in space is also worth watching. I appreciate his descriptions of the near indescribable, and the bit about walking through spider webs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zo62S0ulqhA )
The second is a video I happened on only a week or so back, when, in my mind, David Bowie was still a timeless presence on Earth. And something about his video for “Black Star” (also the title of the album he released on Friday, his birthday, two days before his death) seems to celebrate and encapsulate, almost with a wink, the potent ambiguity and visceral symbolism that Bowie wielded, perhaps more ably even than his guitar, as an instrument of his Art.
I’m sure there is much more I could say, but Al HumdilAllah!! is all I can muster for now… and to let his work echo through and speak for itself.
And I can add a tribute from someone else: Happy Rhodes’ song “Feed the Fire,” in which she offers a musical prayer of thanks to her dearest influences, including David Bowie, Kate Bush, and Yes. You’ll notice that Rhode’s exceptional vocal range encompasses both Bowie’s and Bush’s.
Thank you David for feeding the fire.