Remembering David Bowie
Throughout his monumental career, David Bowie had celebrated the many facets of life by becoming a variety of characters, representing the entire spectrum of the human experience in one beautiful soul. As an artistic voice in a cultural wilderness, Bowie lived his life striving to memorialize the rainbow of mankind, and in our efforts to keep his career of characters alive, we often forget to see him as David, the boy behind Bowie. In remembrance of the legacy of the legend, we stand in awe not just at the artistry of David Bowie, but at the man himself.
With such a sudden loss of an artist who shaped the sound and aesthetic of musical culture around the globe, we are faced with the challenge of finding the proper means with which to pay our respects to such a man of genius. From a critical perspective, one could begin by listing the singer’s awards and accolades, of which he has won many. However, Bowie fashioned his timeline on earth to reflect the value of everything on the other side of accomplishment: the beauty of the unknown and the unspoken-for.
Time and again, Bowie found the loveliness of anything that entered his mind, and this loveliness was often a projection of Bowie’s spirit upon that which his mind beheld. Many of us are familiar with his experimental sound, androgynous persona, and idealistic fantasies that proved the artist longed to view the world with a new set of eyes, but Ziggy Stardust can’t take all the credit for Bowie’s soulful desire to exaggerate the beauty of the misunderstood.
“In a blanket of darkness, a star is born when atoms of light come together under enough pressure to fuse into a beautiful creation that stands the test of time.”
Now that we are left with nothing more than the history of a history maker, it seems fitting to honor the artist, rather than the characters of his creation. David Bowie was born David Robert Jones, the man who could find greatness in the everyday as easily as he could in outer space.
Jones, who once stated of the Oxford English Dictionary, “When I first read it, I thought it was a really, really long poem about everything,” saw both the practicality and possibility of cultural aspects many would not even give a second look. Perhaps that is what separated Jones into his own class of being; he understood the necessity of cultural and intellectual progression as well as how to make the unnecessary a vital part of that progression.
Born in Brixton, England in 1947, Jones was given an endless vision that spanned a career of nearly six decades, including his climb to the top of the glam-rock scene in the early 1970s. After major success with his innovative single, “Space Oddity,” one of the artist’s most remembered seasons was captured in the album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The short-lived persona of Ziggy Stardust was so iconic that many Bowie fans view Stardust as the essence of who the artist was. However, a closer look at the fictional Stardust reveals the truth behind who Jones himself was—and is.
Throughout his span of beloved and bewildering characters, we see the fingerprint of a man motivated by revelation and reinvention, ideas that cannot be executed by the faint of heart or the narrow of mind. Jones was undeniably a genius, led by the intent to expose the limitations of culture and simultaneously prove that no such limit could exist.
What truly made Jones stand out even as he was standing in as Bowie was his spirit of international sensitivity that was marked by a sense of elegance and generosity rare in most of the rock stars of the time. Rather than seeking fame, whether musical or artistic, Bowie saw himself as a builder of bridges between the most distant worlds, and this was widely seen in his variety of recording ventures, including his latest release, Blackstar.
This 25th and final studio album is essentially a testimony of a creative soul searching for renewed life after one-too-many endings that all but ended him. As can be heard in his single, “Lazarus,” Jones expresses the sentiments of one who knows there is still life to be lived, even when the world is against him. Once again, we find Jones seeking to make the lost feel loved and the unknown understood.
He may have viewed himself as a voice to the voiceless, but Jones-turned-Bowie was truly a star—and one of his own making. Today we remember that star, which still shines brightly across the sky of a sunset of progress in the music world.
In a blanket of darkness, a star is born when atoms of light come together under enough pressure to fuse into a beautiful creation that stands the test of time. The career of David Bowie has birthed a star, and our sky will never be the same.