David Bowie’s death hit me harder than I expected. Not just because his illness had been kept quiet and his birthday had just passed. With his trickster, chameleon nature, we all thought he would live forever, or at least as long as we did, outwitting death or at least cancer.
I am not the most qualified person to write about him, either professionally or personally. I admired his music, lyrics, performance, films and style. Two of my boyfriends were obsessed with and resembled him. At least two of his songs (“Heroes” and “Rebel, Rebel”) were on my top ten songs of all time list and so many others followed close behind ("Be My Wife" etc). I mentioned him in my books.
But the thing that struck me most about Bowie was his ability to transcend the confines of musical genre, artistic medium, gender, sexual orientation, race, age and even species (he was a Starman and Goblin King after all). I believe that this breaking down of boundaries is one of the most important and powerful aspects of being an artist.
In his video “Lazarus” released just days before his death, we see Bowie lying in bed blindfolded with screws over his eyes. He is singing about how he is in “Heaven” and free as “that bluebird.” The reassuring words contrast with the grim imagery. Next we see him upright, dancing like the Thin White Duke, his face and form simultaneously pristine, graceful and twisted with longing and regret as he tells us of loss and desire. Then he is sitting at a desk writing manically (with his left hand) overflowing the confines (that concept again) of the page, transforming trauma into art. Finally we see him stepping into the wardrobe, an object rife with symbolism. A frail hand closes the door. And he has left. He has left us. A wardrobe can be a pseudo-coffin, a place to hide, an oversized coffer for the elements of disguise but, as any imaginative child knows, it can also be a portal to other worlds.
David Bowie: Transcendent once again.
P.S. After spending day listening to his music and watching his videos I realized: there would have been no Weetzie Bat withOUT David Bowie. The end.