Editors Note: I will be performing at the KX93.5 David Bowie tribute hosted by Jason Feddy at the Marine Room in Laguna Beach on Monday 1/18/16.Paying tribute to David Bowie seems like an impossible feat. Just the act of typing his name fills me with awe, inspiration and a shameful sense of inadequacy at even trying to sum up his life, career and music.
That’s because in the last 72 hours millions of words have been printed by “professional” journalists, his face has been plastered on the front page of literally every single newspaper and website on the planet and hours upon hours of television tributes have already aired.
I’ve started and stopped writing this piece at least a hundred times. What can I say that hasn’t already been said by legendary friends and collaborators like Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Madonna?
We Could Be Heroes
Like you, I’m still mourning the loss of one of the greatest artists of our lifetime. And while everyone rushed to the web to write tributes to David Bowie, I’ve been up day and night continuously (re)listening to all his albums on Spotify, watching every music video ever made and scouring Wikipedia learning about every producer and musician he ever worked with from Brian Eno and Mick Ronson to Nile Rodgers, Adrian Belew, Tony Visconti (and more).
We had so many good times together. He was my friend, I will never forget him. 2/2 pic.twitter.com/9xfPj88x8b
— Mick Jagger (@MickJagger) January 11, 2016
Despite my mad Bowie review/cram session (and having already been a lifelong fan) I still feel hopelessly unqualified at penning a tribute to an icon like David Bowie.
Or am I?
What I finally realized after another uneasy night of sleep was that even though I never knew David Bowie personally I did know one thing: The Music.
And then I realized that this fearless gender-bending chameleon of film, fashion and music had taught me an important lesson…
He taught me (and all of us) that It was OK to be a little weird. It was OK to be different. It was OK to challenge convention and push beyond long-established boundaries in art and social politics.
He also let you know in no uncertain terms that you weren’t the only alien being who had fallen to earth and, while you’re here, you might as well freak out your parents (and anyone else for that matter).
You’ve got your mother in a whirl
She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl
Hey Babe, you’re hair’s alright
Hey Babe, let’s go out tonight.
– Rebel Rebel
From the high concept art rock album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972) to mainstream pop perfection with Let’s Dance (1983) to the hard rock precursor to grunge with Tin Machine (1991) to The Next Day (2013) and finally Blackstar (2016), Bowie remained vibrant, innovative and unpredictable.
For my part, I’ve performed songs like “Ziggy Stardust” and “Queen Bitch” in bands hoping that I could crack the David Bowie Da Vinci code and get a passing glimpse into what made him so brilliant.
But performing someone else’s songs, let alone an icon like Bowie’s, is like hanging a black and white photo copy of the Mona Lisa on a museum wall and hoping people won’t know the difference.
So while we’ll always miss Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke and the rest of David Bowie’s alter egos, the one thing we won’t ever have to miss is the brilliant musical landscape he left behind for us to discover and continually rediscover.
Thank you, David. We’ll see you back on Mars one of these days.