It was sometime around 2005 that that I first realized I would outlive David Bowie. It was a really cold winter day—so cold that there were no clouds—and I was laying on the floor, staring at the ceiling, listening to Hunky Dory. For some reason, that day, I realized this man whose music molded me on such a foundational level, would die even though that didn't seem like it should possible.
The strange thing about Bowie, to me, was that whenever I held him in my mind he seemed at once impossibly youthful and sublimely ancient. I would look up his age online or hear it on the radio and think to myself, “That doesn’t sound right.” But I couldn’t tell whether the number was too high or too low. Now, upon learning of his death, I realize that this quality is the very thing of true transcendence. Bowie seemed ageless because long before I existed he was living forever in the present moment with reckless sincerity, making mistakes as they came to him and always moving forward to the next day.
Despite his popularity, David Bowie is an artist for outsiders. That’s the conventional knowledge. To say that you love Bowie, or that you grew up listening to Bowie, or that you wanted to be like Bowie, is to really say: “I’m not like the normal people.” To me he was a revelation. All the things that made me objectively uncool at a young age—doing karate, having red hair, being obsessed with aliens—Bowie taught me that they had a cultural value greater than what society was telling me.
The lesson I learned from Bowie isn’t that uncool things make you cool, though. It’s much more profound than that simple inversion. What I learned from Bowie is that sincerity is the greatest thing you can aspire to—something that can be seen as ironic considering he’s so famous for donning multiple personas. It doesn’t matter if it’s aliens, Berlin, 90s industrial music, fantasies about Hitler, 1984 or the end of the world, the most far out thing you can do is express yourself sincerely with the confidence of a glam-star. Take your obsession and wear it all over your body. Don’t be guilty because of what brings you pleasure and extend to others that same freedom; just freak out in a moonage daydream and let all the children boogie.
Rest in peace, David Bowie
I’ll never stop loving the alien