The death of David Bowie is almost too much to process. He was a larger-than-life presence for kids like me growing up in the 70s. His music has impacted my life in so many ways: I named my company after one of his songs (“The Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud”), we named our dog “Bowie” and my daughter went to school today wearing all black in honor of him.
My David Bowie journey began in college in the late 80s. I remember my sister, Heather, was getting into Bowie and I went to Horizon Records in Greenville, SC to find a gift for her. I picked up a used copy of Diamond Dogs and took it back to my dorm room. The cover was so curious and I couldn’t resist giving it a listen. It blew me away…
Listening to Diamond Dogs obliterated whatever stereotype I had developed for David Bowie. I realized it wasn’t just aesthetics, costumes and make-up that was driving the phenomenon. Bowie was the real-deal musically. I listened to this album over and over again and still consider Diamond Dogs as my “ground zero” David Bowie album.
Luckily I worked at the radio station at Clemson and had access to their huge library of records. I started an intense exploration of his back catalog. I felt like I had discovered a treasure chest full of riches. I digested every album I could get my hands on: Hunky Dory, Low, Heroes, Aladin Sane, and on and on… I was lucky enough to see him play live four times during the 80s.
David Bowie taught me that you can be whatever you want to be and that you can do more than you thought you could do. The way he managed to reinvent himself is inspiring. Always reaching for the next challenge and never settling on his laurels. David Bowie didn’t just “dabble” in different musical genres… he owned them. Young Americans is a truly great soul album. Man of Words, Man of Music is a truly great acoustic folk album. The Man Who Sold The World is a truly great hard-rock (almost heavy metal) album. You get my point…
When I think about what it means to have a successful life, I can’t help but think of David Bowie as a shining example of success. Even after his death, he lives on through the impact he’s had on the world and the wealth of beautiful art he has left behind.
“I’m not quite sure what I’m supposed to do… So I’ll just write some love to you..”