From an early age, David Bowie’s music affected my life. The duet “Under Pressure” by Bowie and Queen’s Freddie Mercury will always be my go-to pump-up jam while getting ready in the morning or working out. One of my favorite Christmas carols is a duet by Bowie and Bing Crosby: “Peace on Earth/Little Drummerboy.”
I remember visiting New York City when I was 14 years old and staying at the Empire Hotel, where Bowie and his wife, Iman, had a penthouse apartment. I kept hoping to catch a glimpse of the man, the legend, David Bowie.
Sadly, I didn’t run into him in the Empire Hotel lobby during my trip. Nonetheless, even though I’ve never personally met Bowie, I still dearly miss him now.
Because missing someone you’ve never even met is what it’s like to miss Bowie.
Sophomore journalism major Ayzia King also shared a personal connection with Bowie.
“On my 16th birthday, I had a Bowie-themed party, including a Bowie cake and the albums ‘The Labyrinth,’ ‘Aladdin Sane,’ and ‘Hunky Dory’ as presents,” King said. “I cried tears of joy.”
“David Bowie had a definite impact on my life,” said Ismael Lopez-Medel, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Communication Studies, as he remembered hearing “Dancing in the Street” by Bowie and Mick Jagger as a teenager. “It’s just amazing. He’s got a series of records from 1967-1976. It’s just phenomenal. He’s…very influential, personally [and] in terms of style.”
Though cancer took his life, Bowie’s legacy as an artist lives on.
“David Bowie loved to experiment,” Lopez-Medel said. “If you look at his discography, he never repeated himself twice…His album ‘Ziggy Stardust’ was one story, or series. Then he would move on to something new and different.”
The messages in Bowie’s music touched people as well.
“[In] the song ‘Changes,’ [Bowie] says, ‘Go and chase the strange,’” King said. “It doesn’t matter who you are; I feel like people can learn a lot from him, and be who they want to be.”
“[Bowie] made being weird ‘cool’ and inspired people to be themselves,” agreed junior commercial music major Alyssa Tepper. “He pushed the boundaries of male fashion and musicality with his outrageous fashion sense and space-like sounds. [He channeled] a state of transcendence to the masses.”
Two days before his death, Bowie released the album “Black Star,” along with the music video for his song “Lazarus.”
“It blew my mind,” Lopez-Medel said. “I think it is interesting that Bowie had a sense of spirituality [and believed] that there was a greater force out there.
“I saw the music video for the song ‘Lazurus’ as a call or cry for help,” added Lopez-Medel. “The last account Bowie followed on Twitter was @God, which is interesting because it led me to think: ‘He had a great life and all these worldly possessions, but at the end of the day, what was he thinking?’”
The song “Lazarus” opens with:
“Look up here, I’m in heaven. I’ve got scars that can’t be seen. I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen. Everybody knows me now.”
We may never know whether Bowie found God and became a true believer in his dying days. My hope is that he did.
Bowie was not perfect, but none of us are. One thing’s for sure: He was a game changer in music. I would even argue that he was a game changer in the world. Bowie was always surprising us with interesting and exciting styles of music. He truly was a one-of-a-kind artist.
Rest in peace, Bowie. Ziggy Stardust forever. Enjoy your Space Odyssey!