The Stars Look Very Different Today
David Bowie 1947-2016

So listen. This is not how I wanted to start the year.

I had another column ready to go. In fact, it was my annual list of reasons why the next year will be the best one ever. It’s completely written, and I had planned to post it today and kick off my 16th year of this silly music column with a burst of hope.

And then we lost David Bowie.

And suddenly the wide-eyed optimism of that particular column just doesn’t seem right.

I was always more of a Bowie admirer than a Bowie fan. But for my entire musical life, he’s been there, often at the margins, making strange and beautiful music. I will admit here that the first Bowie album I heard all the way through was 1995’s Outside, not counting his stint with Tin Machine, which I loved before I even really knew who Bowie was. It’s usually overlooked, but Outside is amazing, as is its follow-up, Earthling, and those two records hooked me.

Coming in so late, it was easier for me to get a grasp on the sheer scope of the man’s talent and influence. There aren’t very many legends walking the earth – and now there is one less – but Bowie certainly fit that bill. There isn’t a corner of the musical world he hasn’t impacted in some way. Bowie made it not only acceptable to be a theatrical musical chameleon, he made it awesome. You never knew what Bowie would sound like, look like or act like, and that was thrilling, exhilarating.

Perhaps best of all, he remained a strong creative force until his final days. I’ve been reading a lot today about how Bowie timed the release of his final album, Blackstar, and his final video, “Lazarus,” with his own death, making that part of the performance. It’s incredible, and I will have a lot more to say about that next week, when I review the album. But even at 68, ravaged by a cancer he kept secret from the world, Bowie kept his astonishing musical imagination at full bloom.

I will not be able to articulate what a loss Bowie is to the world. So I will not even try. I’ll save my words for next week, when I will post both the column that was supposed to run in this space and my Blackstar review. For now, I’m going to stop talking about David Bowie and listen to some. I’m not sure where I’ll start, but it hardly matters. The journey isn’t about where it starts, or even about where it ends.

Rest in peace, David. And though it doesn’t seem like nearly enough, thank you.

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