I sat myself down at the start of 2016 to begin the process of writing something, well, anything in this sort of diarised fashion to which blogging lends itself. As I always do, I panicked internally over exactly what I could possibly write that people would find even vaguely of interest. Most of what comes out is probably trite and barely any of it is read by anyone other than me. And that’s okay, I am not here for anything more than a little self-discovery. Having said that, every time I’ve tried this before, some kind of inertia has quickly set it and the blog ends up stagnating into nothingness. As I write this on 11th January, little more than a week since re-lauching this site, I have already had a series of days in which I have not returned to WordPress to compose anything whatsoever. Today though, I am writing about death.
I woke up this morning ready for another day at the office, I had a quick look at Twitter and, to my horror, read the news that David Bowie had died. There have been plenty of deaths in the short history of the Tweeting and Facebooking world in which we live; each as shocking in their own way; Michael Jackson, Nelson Mandela, Whitney Houston, to name a few. However, the outpouring of emotion today was something else entirely. A rare moment where social media opened its heart with a moment of raw honesty. Friends, celebrities, commercial enterprises, charities, parody accounts, all expressing their shock and sadness in the simplest terms. It was a beautiful thing in its own, tragic way. I hope he knew how loved he was.
After that, I knew I had to come back to this blog to write a little something even though I feel singularly unqualified to do justice to his life or his work. My ‘fan’ credentials in this regard are slim pickings: I am a bit of a fan, but nothing more. According to Wikipedia, Bowie released 28 studio albums and I own 13 of them. Yes, I counted. I was listening to Backstar all weekend and lauding its brilliance to all and sundry at the pub on Saturday night but have no great knowledge or insight into his back catalogue. I saw him live once at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert back in 1992, the first proper gig I ever attended. He was great, but he was not the reason I was there. So, today’s reaction has been something of a revelation to someone like me with nothing more than a quiet, passing interest and admiration for the man.
As I’ve read and watched and listened to the news and the reactions, I am struck that this was a man who transcended music. Not only was David Bowie the epitome of what it means to be an artist, not only did he stand out from the crowd and single-mindedly create what he wanted to be created, not only did he influence the artistic world that he inhabited, but he challenged our culture to such a degree that he changed our culture. And changed it for the better. So, now I have 15 more Bowie albums that I can go out and discover. His music living on. The man who fell to Earth left a legacy for all the ages, and I can’t wait to find out more about what he had to say to us.