Something happened on the day he died.
I remember checking Twitter before bed the night of Jan. 10, 2016. I saw a tweet tribute to rock icon David Bowie, and I was confused. After a quick Google search, I learned that Bowie died from liver cancer, a fight he kept up as he continued to make music. I put in some earbuds, turned on “ ‘Heroes’,” closed my eyes and shed a few tears as I fell asleep. I had never felt too emotional about celebrity deaths, but Bowie was different.
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside.
As much as it’s been said about so many people, there wasn’t anyone else like Bowie. The world hadn’t heard music like “Life on Mars” and “‘Heroes’” before – and for it to come from the same person who made pop hits like “Let’s Dance,” who stunned on Broadway in The Elephant Man and who embodied such personae as Ziggy Stardust, no less?
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried,
When I think of why I’m awestruck by Bowie, I remember the interview Rolling Stone did with Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails about opening for Bowie on the Outside tour. Nine Inch Nails was more popular than Bowie in North America at the time, but the band opened for him. Bowie avoided his hits for music from the Berlin trilogy and 1. Outside, because, as Reznor recalled him saying, “that’s what I need to do.”
“I’m a blackstar!"
With his death imminent, Bowie would complete two final projects. The first was a critically acclaimed musical called Lazarus. Based on The Man Who Fell to Earth, a book later adapted into a movie that Bowie starred in, it featured Bowie’s hits and some new music.
That new music was off his second project, an art rock album called Blackstar. The album only has seven songs, anchored by its 10-minute masterpiece of a title track. It came out Jan. 8, 2016 – Bowie’s 69th birthday, and two days before his death. When he died, the album took on a new meaning for the world as an album about death and legacy.
“I’m a blackstar!”
The Genius entry for this lyric of “Blackstar” mentions two possible meanings of “black star”: a dead star that still releases energy and a potentially cancerous lesion. So, yes, something happened on the day he died: We lost a star, but we still have his energy through his art.