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David Bowie – In Memoriam

David Bowie – In Memoriam


There’s no word great enough to truly encompass the grandeur of David Bowie as a creative entity. Every attributed title or caption must come with a massive caveat. Yes, he’s a musician, but he’s not just a musician, yes, he’s an artist, but he’s not just an artist. His body of work, which clocks in at 27 albums just shy of 50 years, has more vision than most film-makers will ever realize, is chock-filled with poetry that makes even the greatest writers sore with envy and a breadth of influence impossible to comprehend. And that’s not even considering his live records or acting career, both of which are worthy of pages of praise unto themselves. When it comes to critical descriptors, I’ve always tried to refrain from describing someone or something as unique; Distinct is usually much more appropriate as all art is but a construction of what came before it. But when it comes to the life and times of one David Bowie, the only term appropriate really is “unique”.

As close to an ethereal presence as one can get artistically, even finding highlights within a memorandum like Bowie‘s is hugely difficult as there are simply too many. Discussing all encompassing artistry such as his is more than a single piece essay can feasibly cover. No matter what I talk about, or where I start, I’ll be arguing with myself incessantly about the drawbacks of picking that moment over this one, because cherry-picking is ultimately always defining his work characteristically in a way that doesn’t really speak to the whole. Of course there are easy spots to hone in on, like Ziggy Stardust, whose adventures in The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars is as much a piece of sci-fi history as anything Stanley Kubrick created. Or The Thin White Duke, a noirish drug-fuelled creature that was his last theatrical persona used to enhance his live shows and musical story-telling.


But they are each just characters in the enigma, cogs of the machine that each would warrant their own deep analysis if I were to dig in to how Bowie constructed his works. Though I have my favourite records and creations of his, his legacy is simply too great to get a read on what, exactly, David Bowie is, what the legend of him is and has become. A master of seemingly endless craft, the greatest story Bowie ever managed to tell, the greatest alien of the stars above he ever managed to summon doesn’t even exist on liner notes or DVD to be dissected. It exists inside the margins and minds of everyone who’s sat down and wandered through one of his albums.

When you look at it now, when you see Bowie’s ensemble in full now after 40-something years, it isn’t simply an array of esoterica designed to astonish – it’s an honest affront of what it is to be weird and esoteric. He was a freak when it really meant something to be freaky, and each evolution of his persona was another attempt to be freaky, to be strange and beyond understanding. And when he was out of personas, he performed as simply David Bowie and suddenly the crowd were now all these freaks that he’d created, given flesh to a yearning for the strange. His records were beacons for fans of the wild and fantastical; his album Diamond Dogs is a glittery interpretation of George Orwell‘s 1984, released a clean decade before the book’s major movie adaptation. The same record was in-line to become a theatrical performance too, a sure fire sci-fi extravaganza that never quite solidified.

In acting, too, Bowie made a sister-career to his musicianship that became synonymous with being otherworldly. The Man Who Fell To Earth, Labyrinth, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me – all films about an existence beyond our own and the human condition therein. Much like his LPs, these are movies about being in some way lost and becoming okay with being lost, with enjoying that journey wherever it leads. Like the second half of his 1977 opus Low, Bowie loved meandering and he loved to take us with him, to lead us to a mirror that held a different version of ourselves.

Therein lies Bowie‘s greatest creation – us, the version of us that can find our way through a maze of his work. The version of us that we stumble upon when searching through his labyrinthine tomes that can simultaneously confound and deeply comfort. He knew and had a deep understanding, possibly the greatest understanding, of what it was to be odd. Not just a touch flamboyant, genuinely irrevocably odd. Strange. Weird. Offbeat. He knew these feelings and he made a life’s mission of exploring them, exasperating them. Not forcing them into a closet or making excuses for them, just letting the bizarrities out in an imaginarium all their own for everyone to see.

And in remembering him and his work, the greatest tribute to his legacy is keeping that little circus alive. Creating, doing, trying, striving, keeping our own weirdness afloat. Working on our own personas and flamboyant characters so as to, maybe, one day, be the guiding hand to someone else who needs a gentle push in their own maze. Who needs reminding to gaze at the stars and see only endless fantasies and nothing less.

He was our Starman waiting in the sky, and when he came to meet us, he truly blew our minds. And now he has returned to the stars from whence he came, awaiting us all when our time is done.

R.I.P David Bowie, 1947 – 2016


  1. I’d be lying if I said I was a big fan of David Bowie but I respect him as a musician. (Plus Starman and Dance Magic Dance are incredible songs). R.I.P Mr Bowie.

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