By Cade Miller /// Staff Writer
Sitting here, typing, I have the nerve-wracking realization that I am not qualified to write this piece. I had naïvely believed that the depth of my devotion to David Bowie would make it easy for me to produce an article celebrating his life and work. When I agreed to write this retrospective, I did not yet understand that nothing I could say or do would ever be able to come close to doing justice to the life and legacy of David Robert Jones.
Sounds hyperbolic, perhaps a little melodramatic, I know. But think about it. David Bowie’s music has impacted each and every one of us – whether we know it or not. He was, and continues to be, one of the most influential musicians of all time, and every modern pop star owes their music and career to him on some level. What can you say about a figure so monolithic? The man even turned his own death into an awe-inspiring work of art, and by doing so claimed 2016’s album of the year by the beginning of January (Kanye eat your heart out).
I am not qualified to write this piece.
After my panic subsides, I realize that there is a single Bowie-related topic on which I can speak with some authority: The depth to which his music and cultural presence has impacted me.
I remember the first time I heard a Bowie song. My father was driving me to school (I was in the 5th grade at the time) and “Let’s Dance” came on the radio. It was love at first listen; the song was so catchy and fun, and my 10-year-old self couldn’t get it out of his head. But it wasn’t until I was 14 and a freshman in highschool that I decided to dive into his discography. Of course, I started with “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust,” realizing immediately that it was one of the most unique records I’d ever heard. But it was “Heroes” that changed everything for me. The way I saw myself, the way I saw others, the way I saw the world we were all living in—Bowie had taken my young and underdeveloped perspective and turned it on its head. He taught me that I did have the freedom to express myself (social norms be damned) and the only thing stopping me was the fear of judgment. He taught me to take risks with my art, and to always be aware of boundaries that needed pushing. Most importantly, he taught me that there is no such thing as normal: only people who are afraid of expressing their true idiosyncratic selves.
Without David Bowie’s music, I would not be the person I am today.
You were king, David, and you will always be my hero.