Your soul

Irrefutable Proof That Legends Affect Us All

By January 12, 2016 0

I don’t know much about David Bowie.

I had, of course, heard the name before — I haven’t been living in some kind of pop-culturally-void commune for the last 24 years — but my music preferences lie more in line with bad early 2000’s pop than 1970’s rock, and I tend  to just nod my head along when people make references I don’t understand, vowing to look them up later and then never actually doing it.

I know he was the guy with the cool red face paint, that he was married to Iman and had something to do with the phrase “Ziggy Stardust.”

I didn’t know a single song he’d ever performed, that he had released a new album on Friday — his 25th —  or that he was dying of cancer.

When I woke up yesterday morning and checked my Instagram feed, I was overwhelmed by messages of tribute to the late songwriter, who had apparently died Sunday afternoon surrounded by friends and family.

I read countless tributes from players in the music, fashion, art, political and business worlds about how he influenced their work, as well as messages of heartbreak from regular, every day people whom he simply inspired.

“David Bowie was one of my most important inspirations, so fearless, so creative, he gave us magic for a lifetime.” – Kanye West, Rapper (duh.)

“I grew up listening to and watching the pop genius David Bowie. He was a master of re-invention, who kept getting it right. A huge loss.” – David Cameron, British Prime Minister

He wasn’t afraid to try new things and collect different styles. I remember taking notes from an interview where Bowie described himself as ‘selfish as a writer and performer, and that he only writes and performs for himself. Without David Bowie, the music and art landscapes would undoubtedly be a much different place. We owe a lot to him” – Helen Green, Illustrator

“He was one of the few role models that sent a message out which felt modern. Here was a man who might have been gay or might not have been who wore make-up, who dressed up, who looked flamboyant. Here wa san incredible vision saying to men in general, it’s fine to have a different version of sexuality – Nick Knight, Photographer

“David Bowie’s influence in music extends undeniably into fashion. Being the original gender bender, he blurred the lines and pushed the envelope on what is acceptable for a man to wear and created a new archetype for generations of youth to be inspired from” – Jeremy Scott, Fashion Designer, Moschino

Upon reading these touching words, and seeing powerful images of people around the world mourning the death of an icon, I too couldn’t help but mourn the man who’s influence has touched every corner of the creative world.

I also couldn’t help but wonder, “How had I missed it?”

How had I, a writer,  former-fashion-industry-insider and self-proclaimed “creative person” been entirely untouched by the legend that was David Bowie?

So naturally, I started Googling; attempting to find a connection to this cultural phenomenon that had seemingly passed me by.

Almost immediately, I was shocked to find the link I had been looking for: David Bowie sang “Under Pressure.”

A song that, yes, happens to be sampled at the beginning of “Ice, Ice Baby.”

But also a song I used to blast alone in my car driving home from school every day. That I used to sing at the top of my lungs in my best friend’s basement, into her karaoke machine, during slumber parties. That I made out to one time in high school with a guy named “DB.”

A song to which I can recite every word. A song that evokes fond memories of happy times. A song I’ve always just sort of… known. And a song that I love.

David Bowie’s music didn’t change or affect my life in any major way, but it did help get me through tough days and long car rides, and generally made me happy. In whatever small way, he touched me, too.

But that’s the thing about legends, about people with an influence as great and widespread as David Bowie’s: they impact our lives in ways we don’t even realize. In the smallest and most minute; like making us smile when their song comes on the radio; or at the grandest scale; like changing the fashion and art and music worlds around us. In short, even if we might not know it, we owe them.

So I leave you with this, words of Bowie’s that I had not read until yesterday, but that I love and that will continue to influence me (true story: they’re the background on my phone) in the wake of his death:

“I don’t know where I’m going, but I know it won’t be boring.”

Rest in Peace, Starman.