ashes to ashes
Parenting, Pop Culture

Ashes to Ashes: Remembering David Bowie

I’ve had Bowie on the brain for days now, ever since I caught my son listening to the Thin White Duke:

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Not that I didn’t pretty much always have Bowie on the brain: he had me trembling like a flower as a kid… back when that kind of thing happened on a regular basis.

Considering a slew of Tweets woke me from deep slumber last night to the shocking news of Bowie’s demise is just more evidence of how he spoke to so many generations of people with that otherworldly, unmistakable bombastic groove that fills your soul and makes you wish you knew life on Mars even one iota as much as Ziggy did.

There are so many songs in his repertoire that resonate, but one random tune in particular always stood out to me — “Kooks,” from the Hunky Dory album that also brought us the seminal, ground-zero Bowie anthem, “Changes.”

I loved it in my youth, but it was when I had started my path as a breeder that “Kooks” really kicked in:

“Will you stay in our lovers’ story
If you stay you won’t be sorry
‘Cause we believe in you
Soon you’ll grow so take a chance
With a couple of Kooks
Hung up on romancing…

And if you ever have to go to school
Remember how they messed up
This old fool
Don’t pick fights with the bullies or the cads
‘Cause I’m not much cop at punching other people’s dads
And if the homework brings you down
Then we’ll throw it on the fire
And take the car downtown…”

Could there be any better parenting advice?

And although I’ve always fancied the idea of having one brown eye and one blue because someone punched the brown out (urban myth or true story?), I also like the idea of not putting too much stock in institutions and way more faith that a ride downtown with a kook or two or twenty can make life truly worth living.

And so wading through all the notices of Bowie’s death made me sad, but it turned into a full-on weeper when I read this Tweet from his son, Duncan “Moon” Jones: “Very sorry and sad to say it’s true. I’ll be offline for a while. Love to all.”

Just thinking about how that offlining works in the wake of your dad’s death is what got me.

Speaking of parents and parenting, I’ve been pushing my kids to listen to Bowie’s new album, Blackstar, which dropped on his birthday last Friday. A friend called it, “interesting and new sounding,” and that is such a spot on description.

How magnificent is choosing to live out your remaining time crafting a truly stellar work that’s fresh and exciting… and a “parting gift” for your fans? (Really, that was David Robert Jones’ intention – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/12092542/Bowies-last-album-was-parting-gift-for-fans-in-carefully-planned-finale.html)

My favorite track, “Lazarus,” has a message I missed initially, but is brutally obvious in the wake of Bowie’s demise:

For the unanointed, Jesus brought Lazarus back to life four days after his death.

Miracles happen, in other words.

In my opinion, orchestrating a creative burst of something that you’ve never done before, that nobody has ever quite experienced by you, in the final throes of life is pretty damn miraculous.

And transcendent.

But don’t cry for Bowie, or even yourself, because there is freedom from all the constrictions of humanity through art, and this gorgeous parting gift is just that.

As is his entire catalog that spans nearly 50 years.

Being free “just like that bluebird,” is, in the end, really just like Bowie. (See “Lazarus,” above.)

May he rest in freaks.

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