David Bowie died today at the age of 69. He had been fighting cancer–unknown to most–for about 18 months before finally succumbing. His latest and final album, Blackstar, was released just three days ago.
It’s currently #1 on the Canadian iTunes store. Five of his other albums are in the top ten.
Dying is always a great boost to a career.
I liked Bowie’s music. I only own two of his albums but have always appreciated his artistry and the way he forged his own unique musical identity. His legacy as a brilliant performer is assured.
At the same time I admit that I found some of his work, like that of Tin Machine, wholly unappealing. I was never a huge fan of grunge (I like a little edge in my music, but only a little) and Tin Machine was essentially grunge before it had a label.
But that’s just personal taste. Bowie never did anything wrong. He did what he wanted and what he wanted was to explore musical landscapes in ways that were always interesting and sometimes catchy as all get-out.
His death makes me feel sad in that he-was-a-good-guy-who-also-happened-to-be-a-celebrity way, but it also makes me realize that growing older is defined so much by what we lose–from the superficial, like the hair on our heads and the smooth skin of our faces, to the substantial–drifting apart from long-time friends, sometimes for reasons no one can say, to the loss of those we love to death. Our culture creates and celebrates pop icons and as the years pass I watch as death claims more and more of the ones I grew up with, people who did not seem immortal, exactly, but somehow eternal.
Bowie was like that. Seeing cancer claim him reminds me–us–that our time as physical bodies is limited.
So now, while we can, let’s dance.