This one just hit a little close to home for me.
There has been a couple of celebrity deaths I will always remember, a couple that shocked me.
I remember Princess Diana dying in a car crash in the summer of 1997, I was only ten years old but I was voraciously reading newspapers already by then and I stunned by the front page news. That was terrible, and shocking and even as a ten-year old, I remember being outraged by how she could be chased into her death like that. But I was too young to feel real sadness.I remember feeling bad for Amy Winehouse. She seemed so broken, almost from day one. I wasn’t surprised though, it seemed to be spiralling downwards.
I was shocked and saddened by the death of Robin Williams. He may have a had choice in his suicide, but I’m well aware he might have been all too influenced by his severe depression.
Lou Reed was someone I held in high regard and his death was as unexpected as it was sad to me. But he was always a distant character to me, somebody I had just started to understand, and started to appreciate.
Sometimes I feel really sick thinking about the death of John Lennon, but I never got to know Lennon in my lifetime. He lived and died before I was even born, and even though I rank him as one of my favourite artists ever, it’s always a bit different when it’s someone you had in your own lifetime, isn’t it?
David Bowie is on a whole other level for me.
I have never cried at any of these deaths, or any death before that, not even when someone I knew in my own, real life, died. But I’ve cried now, and not just once. I’ve lost count.
He was my favourite artist and favourite songwriter ever, hands down.
Someone who ever held an artist in such high regard will know what I mean, it’s like losing a friend, and I had this friend for over 15 years to take me through my awkward teenage years, my horrible first years in my twenties (where I had to face severe trauma), my hard-working-trying-to-pretend-I’m-an-adult-25-ish and now my sad, teary-eyed 29-year old.
His main theme was always about alienation, about seeing the world from an outsider’s perspective, sort of like an actor in a play. You’re there, but not really there. I suffered from this feeling all my life.
I feel things, but it’s like I have to really put myself in someone else’s shoes and perspective to do that sometimes, like Bowie putting on his endless characters and masks.
He may have been cryptic and full of obscure references that I always had to look up to fully understand (I loved that, by the way, he was like an all-knowing archive of cultural knowledge, you always learned something new from him), but I always sort of knew what he was conveying.
I felt like I understood this artist, and where he was coming from, and apparently, I’m not alone in this. He spoke to many, many people, that felt like I do.
So, this is part of why I’m reacting, part of why I’ve cried my eyes out over this man. It was really an artist above everybody else for me, he was otherworldly, in a sense, like he always had this impenetrable wall of charisma and integrity.
It’s also part shock. I really, really thought he had a couple of more good years to go. I had no idea. I didn’t see he was sick at all. I just figured, you know, he’s old and people are allowed to look old. They should be. But now I realize the signs were all there, me and others chose not to see them.
For the third part, this is also about me, personally. It’s about something I’ve avoided practically all my life. There’s a reason why haven’t cried for anybody’s death before, not even a relative’s death. I fear death. I don’t want to think about it, I don’t want to hear about it. I don’t understand it, and I don’t accept it, and I don’t understand people who can accept it.
I know I need to work on this, and I know I need to face this, because, if there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s that none of us can avoid it.
I hate this thought, that everything and everyone I know, will inevitably end.
Now I had to face it, in a way, with no chance of preparing myself.
It is simply unfathomable to me how this man could have the strength to make art out of his own mortality and his own death the way he has done with ‘Blackstar’. It’s all over this record, it’s all in his words and in his voice. Maybe it was his way of dealing with it, with the fact that he knew he was going to die.
I could never have done such a thing. I have all the respect in the world for him, for doing this.
Fourthly, and lastly, this felt to me as one of the last big icons of rock history to me. So original, so one of a kind. I really feel, right now, like there’s no one like him, and that saddens me. And even worse, I feel like there’s no one out of the younger generation that’s even remotely close to what Bowie, or Lennon, or Zeppelin, or The Who, or The Kinks, or Hendrix, or Johnny Rotten, was doing. It’s like creativity and originality has run its course and we’ve run out of idols, run out of spokespeople for the new generation. No one to hand the flag to. No one to keep things moving.
If there’s anyone out there, with something to say – now is the time to step up.
We need you. The void is getting bigger with each day.