Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie and a Non Rock 'N Roll Death

I'm rather annoyed, not to mention saddened, that cancer has claimed the life of David Bowie. Cancer is an everyday killer but David Bowie was extraordinary. Losing David Bowie is bad enough but to cancer - really. He could at least have gone in  a befitting way, lie falling to earth from a space station, or dying in grand rock n' roll fashion.



As Bowie was breathing his last I was having a recurring convo with the significant other about how we are all going to die of cancer due to man's wanton destruction of the earth. I have tried to disagree but I'm starting to get depressed about it now.

Almost every week someone from my formative years passes away but I certainly wasn't ready for Bowie and, judging by the outpouring of grief on Facebook, nobody else was either.





During my somewhat angst-ridden teen years, Bowie was a constant, albeit ever-changing presence that reminded us we could be a hero just for one day and if we didn't like our personality we could change it up. Or at least do something really weird with our hair. And so it proved that day when the neighborhood bully - ominously called Smith - came round to smack up some of my friends. With the soundtrack of Bowie's Scary Monsters ringing in my ears, I stepped onto my neighbor's lawn and found a new strength that allowed me to catch him with a right hook to his jaw that led him to beat a rereat. Bowie saved me from the everyday grind, from the Smith and the Joneses - all rather ironic as he was born David Jones.

All of this reminds me of the obscure movie Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence in which Bowie is a soldier in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp. He is haunted by his fatal failure to stand up to the bullying of his kid brother, with fatal consequences, and decides to make a stand against the Japanese guards. Bowie is left to die in a pit in the soaring sun. It's great family viewing for a Sunday afternoon.



As we get older, we change and so too did Bowie. The androgynous Ziggy Stardust character of the past - that reminds me a bit of scary aunts from my childhood - was cast aside and in the 1980s, Bowie because a slick stylish icon with blond hair, that was representative of the rampant consumerism of the decade. Later he became one of the first artists to embrace the Internet.



In his last incarnation as Lazarus, Bowie seems to be writing his own epitaph and singing and making a video of his demise. His life is as powerful a chronicle of the human condition in its own way as Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man. In an age of intolerance and ISIS, Bowie is a reminder that we can be who we want to be.



In the end Bowie remained an enigma, which is more than we can say about the ever growing scourge of cancer. We are not all doomed, but sometimes we can feel that way. A survey out last month, found cancer rates were under control in the western world but rising in the developing world as people afford more cars and cigarettes. The incidence of cancer is predicted to rise 57 percent in the next 20 years, although one reason for this is that more people will be living longer, long enough to contract cancer in their golden years, an era Bowie never made it to sadly.





4 comments:

  1. Bowie was great! Thanks for sharing, David. Pretty heavy. Quite a lot here to reflect on.

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    1. Thanks for reading Jacqueline - yup sorry to be heavy...

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  2. Upon hearing of Bowie's death, my husband said, "There goes another part of my youth." I felt the same way. I, like most people, wasn't even aware that he was battling cancer. Such sad news for the music world. Excellent post. You said it well.

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  3. thanks Connie - yep I felt totally that way...

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