The Starman has gone home, but what have we learned?


On Monday 11th January, a dazzling double rainbow beamed through the clouds in New York City, which was the same day David Bowie lost his battle with cancer. Merely a beautiful synchronicity or The Starman himself’s final serenade to the world? Who knows? But it will be a day to remember for people all around the world.

David Bowie’s life itself has been a work of art – a persistent dance with the weird and the wonderful. Since the sixties Bowie has, simply by being himself, redefined the meaning of gender, sexuality, art, music and much more. His work bridged the gap between the bizarre and the conventional – uniting oddballs and ordinary people alike in the kind of union only music can bring about.

His songs act more as an art exhibition – a peculiar arrangement of sounds with abstract words easy to project your own meaning upon. But that’s not all there is to it – throughout his career; Bowie explored important issues that were rarely touched upon at the time.

Coming out as bisexual in the 70s and embracing a host of subversive identities in the following years, he was no stranger to challenging society’s idea of normal. He gave people across several generations a platform to stand on, a tribe to feel a part of. He was celebrated by the LGBT community, who finally had someone to revere in pop culture – someone who wasn’t scared to embrace his unearthly nature so publicly and so successfully.

Gender and sexuality might have been his experimental forte, but that isn’t to say that was where his work ended. His 1970 track After All explored mental illness in a beautifully captivating way, which was completely unheard of in the days where anyone suffering with even a minor symptom of a mental illness might be wrestled into a straight jacket.

Race was also on Bowie’s agenda. In 1983, he was heard in an MTV interview criticising them for not playing enough music by black artists. Strangely enough, MTV were the first ones to post this following his death – perhaps to avoid it being used to embarrass them at a later date. David Bowie was far, far ahead of his time.

This was where the beauty of his life’s achievements rest – in the fact that he explored avenues most were not comfortable to go down. Weirdos, freaks and oddballs from all walks of life could find solace in his work, where he made them feel not only accepted, but loved for being different.

His last album Blackstar was maybe the most striking example of his commitment to art. A dark and sombre odyssey, which in hindsight, is clearly inspired by his impending death. A time where most retreat was for Bowie a time to create one last masterpiece exploring perhaps the most avoided topic of all. It is the most profound way he could have said goodbye to his fans.

What can his fans, both new and old, take away from his life? Well for one, that you can make being you cool, no matter how alienated you may feel. In his rise to stardom, Bowie to many was nothing more than a buck-toothed freak walking around South London in drag. Not only did he jump that hurdle, but he also went on to become a figure that will define British art for years to come.

So yes, in case you didn’t know: It’s cool to be weird.


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