Mourning the Starman

The first time I had ever heard of David Bowie was when I was in grade school. I had gotten the soundtrack to A Knight’s Tale, and the track was “Golden Years”. It was probably my favorite scene in the film at the time, and I played that CD to the point it was so scratched none of the songs would play. Around my freshman year, one of my friends made me sit and watch Labyrinth, which I instantly fell in love with. It wasn’t until I read Cheri Currie’s Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway that I had actually stopped and listened to his musicShe wrote beautifully about how Bowie inspired her in her youth and through her adult life that it had compelled me to look him up. Once I clicked on “Space Odyssey” and “Diamond Dogs” I was hooked for life.


Bowie as The Goblin King in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth

A year ago today, I was in mourning in my room, blasting songs such as “Starman” and “Space Odyssey”. The death of the Thin White Duke was quite the ominous start to that dreadful year. Yet, there is a silver lining. Many people had begun to share their favorite David Bowie songs and moments; how Ziggy had touched their lives. My friends and I would drive around blasting Bowie songs; singing and turning up our favorite parts. Neil Gaiman shared his enchanting short story The Return of the Thin White Duke on his Facebook feed. Amanda Palmer collaborated with other artists and covered many of his songs. Fine Brothers Entertainment posted  Elders Reacting to David Bowie, and you could see how their eyes light up seeing him. Bowie’s passing has brought people together to share how his music, art, and fashion  made impacts in their lives and in their own works.

Bowie's Thin White Duke persona, smoking a Gitanes cigarette, 1976.
Photo by Andrew Kent, 1967

There have always been traces of David Bowie have been in my life, other than the soundtrack of A Knight’s Tale. One of the first shirts I bought from Hot Topic (back in the day) said Rebel Rebel on it. One Halloween, I dressed in black slacks, a white button up, and a black vest.My hair was slicked back and sprayed with cheap orange and red hair spray, and I had painted the famous red and blue lightning strike across my face. That’s right, I was a combination of Bowie’s personas. The last paper I wrote in college was entitled The Rhetoric of David Bowie. I had taken the task of trying to explain him in a 5-6 page essay. It was one of those papers where I had too much to say and not enough pages to say it in. I think one of the first songs that I played over and over again was “Lady Grinning Soul”. That was also the song that one of my friends said made her really stop and listen to him.

David Bowie was this artistic force that couldn’t be stopped. He was strange, odd, and beautiful all at once. To me, listening to Bowie is always like a spiritual experience, his music moves through you and stays with you forever. Even after his death, he echoes. Even in his last days, he was an artist. What I have taken from him is that we should always do what we love, and that it’s beautiful to be strange.

Photograph by Jimmy King, 2016