When demigods fall: the life and legacy of David Bowie

Jake Hamilton, Opinion Editor

When Lou Reed died on Oct. 27, 2013 I first lost a sense of immortal security; maybe in the back of my head, I figured if this bright mind could keep breathing after decades of alcohol and drug abuse, then the Grim Reaper had lost his power. Beyond that, with the death of Lou Reed, I irrationally feared the death of brutal honesty.

I also remember Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009. I was chasing an ice cream truck. My dad saw me on the side of the road and asked me to get in. He chased the ice cream truck until it stopped. On the car ride home, the radio announced Jackson’s death. I didn’t know his music very well at the time, but even I perceived a spring out of everyone’s step. For the next few weeks, nobody moon-walked. Even that ice cream didn’t taste as satisfying as it once had.

Great musicians–like all great artists–connect to fans beyond their art medium. They embody principals and ideas we hold dear, which makes their deaths all the more difficult to handle.

So what did Bowie represent? I’m sure his iconic name held countless interpretations to different people. But to me, beyond anything else, he epitomized a genuine devotion to “being yourself”. For awhile, that meant long hair and loose clothing. After that, it meant a red mullet and lightning face-paint, which led to sparkly suits and “dancing in the street.”

Even when Bowie lost some fans, he never lost himself. Whether he was Davy Jones (his nickname in high school) fighting for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long Haired Men (independent.co.uk), a space oddity “floating in a most peculiar way,” Ziggy Stardust or a moving disco ball; he was always David Bowie.

Fans can hear their own inner strangeness in his songs and see their own wacky reflection in his image. His individuality inspired everyone else’s.

His death is tragic, but at least now I know that those principles don’t die with the demigods embodying them. People still dance like the King of Pop. People speak their mind with genuine fervor.

And now more than ever, people are weird. People are being themselves. Thank you David Bowie.