AMPAS Gold Standard Series

Jareth, The Goblin King, played by David Bowie

A great light has gone from the world.
Yesterday, I learned of David Bowie’s passing Sunday night, at the age of 69.

There have been a few celebrity deaths that have affected me deeply: Heath Ledger, Luciano Pavarotti, and now…David.

How can I explain the loss I feel?  Why should the death of a singer/actor/artist make me cry at work?
Because he was so much more than just a singer/actor/artist to me.

I remember seeing The Labyrinth as a child.  It was my favorite movie.  It still is one of my all time favorites.  My sister and I would watch it constantly, and recite the lines, and sing the songs.  And at the heart of it, was this beautiful man, Jareth.  The Goblin King.  David Bowie. I couldn’t have been more than 6 years old, but I was in love with this David Bowie.  I adored him.  I wanted to marry him.  I wanted to dance with him the way Sarah danced with him in the Labyrinth.

Later in the year, my sister and I saw a televised showing of The Glass Spider Tour, and I was hooked.  I was still too young to buy much music of my own, but as soon as I was, I got my hands on as much David Bowie music as I could.   It was because of Bowie that I got into much of the music that speaks to me today.

David Bowie is THE only artist that I learned of as a child that continues to enchant me to this day, almost 30 years later.  The idols of my pre-teen and teen-aged years have long since fallen, but Bowie is still there…and there he shall remain for the rest of my days.

Bowie was a genius.  A brilliant mind.  I did some reading today, and was reminded of some details about his life, his fame…and I saw a few things that remind me of me.  (I’m not by any means comparing myself…just noticing that some of his human qualities remind me of not only my shortcomings, but my triumphs over the shortcomings. )

David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” was the first song I ever sang in a public karaoke venue, back in Chicago.  I still sing it, only now I sing it with my husband: him on the lead, and me on the harmony.  I sing “Magic Dance.”  I sing “Modern Love.”

I count myself as extremely lucky to have been to a concert of his back in 2004.  My best friend Jake (who passed away last year) and I went to the Reality tour in Chicago.  It was the experience of a lifetime.  So many classics, and new songs…and when he sang “Life on Mars?”…my heart quickens just remembering how amazing he sounded, and what a great show he put on.

I owe a lot of who I am today to David Bowie.  He influenced much of the music that I listen to.  He was unapologetically himself, which in turn, showed me that its ok to be unapologetically MYSELF.  To live my life, and to be true to who I am.  To what I want to do.

As someone who is artistically inclined anyway,  knowing that this great pioneer went before me, paving the way for the unusual, the “weird”, the different…it gives me great comfort, and inspires me anew to pursue my dreams.

I started writing this yesterday, after learning of his passing, but found it quite difficult to articulate all that I was feeling.

Sadness, of course.  But also a tremendous amount of gratitude.

And so, a bright light has gone from the world:  it is now in the heavens. (“Look up here, I’m in heaven” he sang in “Lazarus”)  The stars look very different today, for there is a new, bright star among them.   A guiding star for all of us….

“Look out your window, I can see his light…
…There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
‘Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile.”

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