I’ve been having issues with my insomnia last night. I fell asleep relatively early, especially by my standards. When I woke up in the middle of the night, my partner told me that David Bowie had died.
Now, of course, my first response to that is going to be, “Are you serious?”
He told me yes and that he looked it up in several places, including the Hollywood Reporter. He does know me well… I always try to find multiple sources. Now that information is so much easier to get, it’s much easier to also confirm things.
So, I stayed up for a bit, largely because my brain wasn’t going to allow me to sleep again… to the tune of 3.5 hours. While this is not surprising or an unusual occurrence, I was glad for it this time. It allowed me to churn my thoughts, to see how I felt about hearing this news.
Like many out there, David Bowie has been a fixture in their lives since they were a child. I remember hearing the Thin White Duke singing “Ziggy Stardust” and “Life on Mars”. These songs that I remember from my childhood, largely off the radio. I was, to the best of my knowledge, the only one in my family who actually liked Bowie. I felt that I was listening to a kindred spirit.
Now, granted, not as much as I felt with Kurt Cobain. Then again, that was because I identified so deeply with the pain and angst that it was hard to deny. And his death resonated with me very deeply.
But Bowie was still around. Even when I was watching Kurt’s pain that he poured into one of the most amazing covers of “the Man Who Sold the World”. It helped add to my love not only of Bowie, but also to help him resonate with this teen who was so lost, hurt, and angry. Even though I had lost Kurt, I still had some of the other bards who spoke to me, who spoke to the disenfranchised and tossed away.
Then, along comes Earthling.
It came out in 1997. And it was everything that I wanted to hear. It was dark, it was electronic. It was also the album that had the song “I’m Afraid of Americans”. It’s funny because I find that song is even more relevant today than when it came out then. In many ways, some of his music felt fairly prescient. And as I wrote a piece a few months ago, it felt great to find another person who was bisexual and genderqueer who wanted people to express themselves however they feel is them.
I’m still trying to sort through how I feel about this. Suffering with cancer for 18 months is very hard. I’ve watched people die of cancer, so in this instance both Lemmy and Bowie feel so very intimate to me. I’ve last 3 family members to cancer. Most recently it was my grandmother who died last year. I also lost my great-aunt and my step-father.
So, there’s this part of me that’s angry that we put so much money to pills that help men get erections, but there’s still nothing we can really do about cancer. Now, I do realize that cancer is *a lot* more complex. But, damn it. It’s a horribly painful thing to watch someone literally waste away, especially once to you get to the final stages. I’ve seen someone die that way, it’s horrible.
The fact that in two weeks, we lost two prominent musicians to cancer…
I’m still processing how I feel about this, especially David Bowie. This hits on too many memories, especially recent ones. I am incredibly saddened that he’s dead. I’m also so fucking angry that cancer took another person, one who meant so much too so many people.
Long live the Thin White Duke. You have given us so much. You left us so many wonderful songs. You are and will be missed. I shall take solace in the legacy that you left behind.