Remembering David Bowie
The first concert I ever saw was David Bowie, during his Serious Moonlight Tour, on December 8th, 1983. Three plus decades may have accentuated some of the colors in my mind, but as I recall it, it's still one of the greatest shows I ever saw.
The expression, the freedom, the style, the bravado, was amazing. He was in a league of his own, a man at the top of his game, which was saying something considering his revolutionary work throughout the 70's.
Since then, Bowie has represented something special to me. Not simply the brilliant music, which forms the foundation of my musical palette, but more importantly, what he represented in a broader sense.
David Bowie was someone who broke through barriers of all sorts. A musical genius, he defied stereotyping, creating classics that spanned so many genres. He was a fashion icon who constantly morphed his look and personas, constantly keeping his fans guessing. He was a business genius, even floating $55 million in Bowie Bonds back in the 90's backed by his royalties. He dabbled in the world of interactive media, the internet and more, blazing trails before many other artists considered them.
Bowie cared for his art. He didn't care what anyone thought about him. He cared about his search for the truth, being true to himself.
And there's a lesson in there for all of us. We live our lives caught up in our day to day worlds, the belief that we are who we are and that is a static ideal. That we have one act that we are known for and we allow that solely to define us. That we shouldn't venture to be someone we are not.
But, really, who the fuck knows who we are? Who made that judgement? Who has set those limitations? And on what basis?
The reality, at the very core, is that we have.
We've bought into these views - whether self developed or defined by others. We accepted the stories. We bought the bullshit. And we've shortchanged ourselves.
Trailblazers don't buy into these myths. They don't shortchange themselves. Thats why they're trailblazers.
But you don't have to be a trailblazer. Or rather, you can be, in whatever world you define for yourself. You just have to answer one simple question:
Am I being true to me?
If the answer to whatever you're doing is, that you are being true to you, then you should do it. Regardless of what you used to do, who you worked with before, whatever they say, whatever anyone says.
Be true to you.
That's the true test. That's what David Bowie's legacy is.
It's been two years (and a day) since he died - an event that, weird as it sounds, I thought would never happen - and one that I couldn't fathom when it did. And in some strange way, I still can't accept it. He's the only person for whom I felt genuine sorrow when he died, strange for someone I'd never met in my life.
But it's because he's meant so much to me (and so many others) over the years. Because he left us with not just great music, but some great stories and, most of all, an important ideal to live up to. One simple ideal.
Be true to you.