By Susan Reilly
I vividly remember my first encounter with David Bowie. It was the early 70's. "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" had landed in my world. Just creeping into adolescence, life no longer was an innocent frolic through the garden so escaping to Ziggy's world was a welcome break from reality.
David Bowie was different and uninhibited and that was exhilarating. He was a man who wore dresses and platform shoes. Those of us like me, fell hard for "The Man Who Fell from Earth" sharing a cult-like obsession. He was alternative, fully-immersed in performance and perfection. He was our rebel. And, he was perfectly beautiful.
As artists, we painted him striving to perfect every stroke to accurately capture his perfectly chiseled visage. As fashionistas, we pined for his red patent leather platform boots, poofy dresses, and zoot suits. As performers, we were mesmerized by his seductive voice and stage presence. As musicians, we were in awe of his unique sounds, use of the wah-wah, and electronics. As writers and lyricists, we chanted his words, realizing our mortality while launching us up to our feet like space ships at lift off.
"Let's dance for fear
your grace should fall
Let's dance for fear tonight is all
Let's sway you could look into my eyes
Let's sway under the moonlight,
this serious moonlight"
David Bowie was creatively electrifying. His influence is ingrained in so many souls from fine arts photographers, to video production experts, to creative writers who have evolved into content writers and social media experts - all inspired by his limitless creativity.
When news broke on Monday that David Jones aka David Bowie had died of cancer at the age of 69, the world cried. Our hearts are bleeding because it was unexpected and David Bowie seemed timeless and ageless but his death was a reminder that life is short and when it knocks on your door, you can't say come back tomorrow. Even in his final days based on media analysis it does appear as if David choreographed his "end" with the same haunting beauty seen throughout his life's work.
As I reflect, my sadness like so many children of the 70's was also deeply nostalgic since David Bowie made his grand entrance into our lives as we lumbered through common struggles about fitting in. Some teens found a place more easily than others. Many found solace in fantasy and exploration which came in a variety of forms some of which were scary and dangerous. Others innocent yet artistic.
It was David Bowie who openly made us aware that people had different sexual orientations. It was David Bowie who surely eased the pain and fear privately of our friends who we now know are gay, bisexual or "not sure if they were a boy or a girl" but never uttered a word and certainly suffered in silence as they struggled. It was David Bowie who through example encouraged people to push their creativity to the limit with perfection. We watched him morph with such finesse and amazement over five decades making the greatest contributions in history to the arts and pop culture.
It was David Bowie who enlightened the rock world and help transform and elevate music videos to an art form because of his sophisticated use of film techniques. And it is David Bowie who has enlightened and inspired us to continue our creative expression until our very last breath as he did with such grace and prolific style.
"For here am I sitting in a tin can?
Far above the world. Planet Earth is Blue
And there’s nothing I can do."
Planet Earth is blue but we can thank you David Bowie for your enlightenment and inspiration which will likely transcend any other for centuries to come.