Monday, January 11, 2016
The Myth, The Legend
So all of this has gotten me thinking: what does it really mean to us when an artist dies? I've been seeing it all day- people saying they're sad or even devastated by his death. And the cynical part of me thinks: But you didn't even know him! And it's true. especially for someone like Bowie who was so smart in cultivating a public image that was very different from the real man that he kept private for the true loves he had in his life: there's a small, select group of people that are mourning the man today.
But what about the rest of us? No, we didn't know him. But does that mean we didn't love him? And the resounding answer, of course, is no. We did love him- not the man, but the legend.
All I've been hearing all day is deeply personal stories of how he's touched people's lives. Song lyrics that gave voice to a small part of the soul better than the possessor of that soul could. Experiences had at his concerts or while watching his performances that were instrumental shifts in the lives of the people who had them. Other artists who were inspired by this beloved muse and used what he gave as a jumping board to launch their own crazy and wonderful expressions.
Because that's the nature of art- it touches us on a sub-conscious level. It's visceral, it's deep; deeper than what we talk about or the stories we tell. It becomes part of our infrastructure. It helps us express the stuff that makes us us.
So yes, it does make sense to be sad. We all have a right to that grief. But here's what we have an even greater right to: joy. The joy that comes from loving what an artist gives. The wonder that comes from watching how that artist changes the world. The awe it inspires when we realize how much of what we now enjoy was inspired by that artist. Those are the emotions I'm feeling most today.
I'm not sad that he died- I'm grateful that he lived and that in that life he gave me (and all of us) some awesome, inspiring part of himself. Because that part- the legend- that never dies.
The music doesn't stop being played and loved and it doesn't stop inspiring other musicians. The pictures won't fade or vanish and they won't stop inspiring other fashion icons and designers. The stories will carry on in all these circles. The memories we have of those moments where we were truly touched and changed won't go away.
Yes, the man is dead. But the legend? Well that will never die, my friends.
And to David Bowie all I have to say is this: I will always love you. Thanks.