In Memoriam: A Personal Perspective

If you look online today, or indeed, for many days to come – you will find a plethora of memorial pieces on David Bowie, extolling the virtues of his legacy, his work, his art, his fashion, his personas, his self.  I love all of this – and as I am unable to replicate any of it, I will not attempt to.

But I can share why Bowie’s passing means so much to me – and is giving me quiet pause today.  My older brother might fact-check my timeline, but I think – I think David Bowie is almost solely responsible for my own love of rock.

I first discovered Bowie’s recordings via tiny audio clips in Microsoft Encarta on my parent’s new Pentium processor (we were just entranced by this technical functionality).   I was 10 or 11 at the time, and my conservative parents didn’t want us listening to music that wasn’t instrumental, so naturally I was hooked on Bowie’s magnetic appearance and dramatic voice!

I had always followed my big brother around asking nerdy questions about Star Wars, earth science, Medieval history, classic children’s literature… but now I asked him about music – not just David Bowie, but about any rock music that came up.  What are you playing on your guitar? (Nirvana).  Who is Stevie Ray Vaughan? (Awesome).  And so on… but Bowie’s music always stuck with me, and he became a favorite artist:

  • I remember when CMU played nearly all of  The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust album between sets an an  Elliot Smith show (it was truly the perfect setting and tons of fun).
  • I remember making a lifelong friend in college almost exclusively because of our mutual admiration for Bowie – I still imagine her singing the harmonies to “Starman” whenever I hear it.
  • I remember rejecting the character of the fictitious Brian Slade from Velvet Goldmine, because Jonathan Rhys Meyers just wasn’t as cool as the real Bowie.
  • I remember when my brother invited me to sing the backing vocals to his band’s cover of “Little China Girl” at one of his live shows.
  • I remember missing the Bowie concert in Pittsburgh (with deep regret) because $75 seemed like a small fortune when I made my money $2 at a time as a waitress.
  • I remember singing my heart out to a second-hand Ziggy Stardust cassette, in the first (and only) beater car that my parents gave me.

Small things really – but just examples of how Bowie is more than a stack of albums or even a fashion icon to so many.  In my own life his art was the start of my love affair with rock n’ roll, and a way to connect with friends and make memories over the last 23 years.  RIP, and thank you, DB. 🙂




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