David Bowie was primarily a music icon. But my fondest memory of David Bowie was a viewing of a movie of his years ago. We were all ready to watch a terrifying horror movie, and my friend said he had the scariest possible movie for us to watch. We expected it to be something horrifying, we’d just watched a pretty disturbing clip from another movie. He put on Netflix, started playing ‘Labyrinth,’ we watched for many tense moments waiting for a jump-scare. Then the scene cut to a bunch of puppet goblins. I couldn’t stop laughing, we realized it was just a trippy movie not a horror movie. And Bowie’s crazy goblin king ‘Jareth,’ it was such a different movie I couldn’t tell how I felt about it as a standalone piece but it was more different than other movies I’d ever seen. I don’t think I’ve watched something quite so unique since.
Bowie was used to being different. I’m a part of a younger generation, so I didn’t watch his transition from obscurity. I know it only from articles, heresay, and his music. I can’t fully comprehend just how much of a shift a figure like David Bowie was to an ever-watching and critical public. He was so strange as his Ziggy Stardust persona. Yet he somehow made being his unique sort of strange the ‘in’ thing. He made it in a way that few others could ever hope to replicate.
And now that he’s passed, there’s something especially haunting about his last video. And something haunting in general about art made by people who knew they were about to pass. People caught in a current of uncertainty about the coming void and existence and who chose to sublimate that potent emotion into something that would persist after they were gone.
Bowie’s recent music video of him frail and on a hospital bed, it reminded me a lot of Johnny Cash’s cover of the Nine Inch Nails song ‘Hurt.’
Works like that stick with me, these pieces from tortured music legends who know their time has come. They’ve seen so much of life, and experienced it all. And they’re uniquely capable to capture something of the beauty in the darkness while they wallow in it.
Death is inevitable, and everybody faces it in their own way. But Bowie’s still alive in his music and his legacy. Like he lives on even after death.
Just like Lazarus.
May we all live to affirm life as they did, before that unceasing void.