Thank You, David Bowie.


By Thea Gonzales

David Bowie first landed on my planet in the summer of 2009: “Rebel Rebel” blaring to my picnic table from the speakers of Harrer Pool on the hottest of hot days. Suffering from the heat, I momentarily stopped chasing my quickly liquefying Popsicle to listen to this out-of-the-blue siren song. I had to hear more of whatever it was. Writing down key lyrics on my hand with a pen I pestered someone to lend me, I typed them into Google — this was before Shazam made tracking down artists convenient — when I got home and prepared myself for a Bowie Binge session.

That summer’s days were long and filled with as many adventures as a middle schooler could fit under an 8 o’clock curfew. Then suddenly they came with a soundtrack as I listened to Bowie with the appetite that I usually reserved for Popsicles. My ears were full of Stardust. I had no idea at the time, but Ziggy and Bowie’s surprise visit to my planet were just what I needed: a push in exploring my own space oddities.

Any overview of David Bowie’s that you can find will start off the same way: by describing his genius. But I think, at the core of it all, he was just an artist– a genuine, honest-to-goodness artist. And under all of the glitz and glam rock, the thigh-high boots and “man dresses,” Bowie was simply the paragon of an artist: someone who understood art and invited others to take a closer look at it through the expression of his music. He had decided a long time ago that he had run out of concern for what other people thought about him; that, I think, was the technique with which he was able to inspire so many other musicians. In his free bravery — his androgynous wardrobe, avant-garde performances, and ambiguous sexuality in a country infamous for its negative standpoint on homosexuality — David Bowie became both a pop culture icon and iconoclast, finding artistic playgrounds within the conventional.

This isn’t a Wikipedia summary about all the hits Bowie wrote throughout over 50 years of music, nor a compilation of fun facts about his personal life — did you know that his signature dilated pupil was actually caused by a fight with his friend over a girl? This is a thank you.

I have dramatically lip-synced to “Changes” in the bathroom mirror, danced along to “Fame” while cooking (i.e. burning), and even had a Perks of Being a Wallflower moment by driving to “Heroes” on an especially ruminating night. So thank you, Mr. Bowie, from all the aliens that you and Ziggy have visited on your spacecraft. Thank you for sharing what so deeply is a part of you with us; we have found our own passions in seeing you pursue yours. And maybe someday we’ll find you sitting in your tin can/far above the world.