I lost David Bowie.
Yes, technically the world lost David Bowie yesterday. His family lost him. His friends and loved ones and fans lost him. Millions of people are mourning the loss of this brilliant artist.
Yet even as I join the tidal swell of love and grief engulfing he world today, still I feel as if I've lost something unique to me, like a cherished keepsake whose value only I appreciate and understand. It's a selfish kind of sadness. It's the feeling that no one has ever felt pain like my pain, and the only person who ever understood it has gone. And of course, that's absurd, which doesn't make the pain any less real, or the loss any less keenly felt.
I could go on and on like a gibbering fangirl about what Bowie's music meant to me; how, when it spoke to me, I sometimes felt as if it were the only thing on Earth paying attention; how it taught me that I wasn't the only one who could rip through a riot of emotions in the timespan of a few songs; how it taught me about sex and danger and yearning and joy. And sex, did I mention sex? He was a lot for a sad and lonely teenager to swallow. So to speak.
Bowie spoke to me and to people like me whose hearts and minds longed to tug us away from the banal frustrations of existence. He took us places where we otherwise couldn't go. And we were privileged to go with him wherever he went, whether it was a strange, dying planet or a dark room in Berlin. In his songs and his costumes and his performances, Bowie managed to be both staggeringly strange and impressively cool. He was like the ambassador of the outsider to the insiders. Or maybe vice versa. When it came to his ever-changing personae, the only sure bet was that he was bigger and better than life.
This morning I posted on Twitter:
It never really occurred to me that David Bowie might die one day. What do I do now?— Chuck Baudelaire (@DrunkBaudelaire) January 11, 2016
I'm very aware that many of my favorite musicians are growing old. I think about how I'll react when I lose Dylan, Sir Paul, Jimmy Page, Brian Wilson, Joan Baez, Willie Nelson. I'm preparing myself for a day their voices will fall silent and their lives will settle into the realm of memory. But never once did I think about a world without David Bowie. He was somehow ageless and timeless. Of all the puppets in the world, he seemed to have more control over his own strings than the rest of us. As I've listened to his music today, I've been struck over and over by the jarring realization that his voice no longer speaks in this world.
Right now I'm listening to Blackstar, the album he released just three days ago on his birthday. The album he recorded, knowing full well he was dying. It's brilliant, you guys. Not in a nostalgic way, or or an appreciation of his sunset years way. This album is the sound of an artist who would have gone on innovating and creating jaw-dropping music until the end of time, if only the universe ever gave any of us that kind of leeway.
So what do I do now?
What do any of us do?
We keep listening, we keep loving, we keep living. We make our noise and stand on our stage. We crank up Ziggy Stardust until the neighbors complain.
I am sad, Drunkards.
I lost David Bowie.