The news of David Bowie’s passing yesterday hit me hard and deep. His songs were the soundtrack of my teenage years and beyond. I saw him in concert three times, owned every album he ever made, read probably twenty biographies and watched all of his movies. I ordered VHS tapes of old concert footage (which I still have in a drawer under the TV ) and hunted up obscure magazine interviews in the pre-internet age when the only way to do so was by physically trolling second-hand book stores and head shops. I was a true fan.
Throughout his life, he was prolific in the extreme. The thing that’s struck me the most about his final eighteen months, during which time he was well aware of the ticking clock, is the way he determinedly continued to create for as long as he possibly could. I guess, in the end, that’s what an artist does. He creates. David’s final album was released on his birthday, two days before his passing. I’ve only heard one track so far, but it is a beautiful song written by a man staring straight-on at his own mortality.
How fearless and amazing of him to create art born from his own impending death. Despite my sadness, I find it incredibly inspiring. His example is clear. As an artist, there’s no good reason not to create. Everything experienced, even the most difficult thing we can imagine, is an opportunity to be felt and used, and ultimately, to provide fuel in the process of producing art. I only hope I can be that brave in my own life.