I woke up to sad news this morning, as did everyone else in the world. David Bowie has died of cancer at age 69.
If you’d have asked me, yesterday, if I’d have felt compelled to write a blog post if David Bowie died, I’d have shrugged and said, “I like his music. He was a hell of an entertainer. But he doesn’t really have anything to do with me.”
I’d have been wrong. The minute I read the news, I felt like I was kicked in the gut and it took me a couple of hours to understand why.
The short answer… the easy answer… is Labyrinth. It was, in my recollection, my very first taste of fantasy. We weren’t a family that dwelled in the land of wizards and warriors, of swords and sorcerers. We were a family that watched Westerns. Later, I would bond with my dad over Star Trek and Star Wars, and even Beastmaster, but my earliest movie memories were The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly and Gunsmoke. And while I can see the way that those stories, too, have touched my work, nothing shook me by the shoulders the way that Labyrinth did.
From the moment we watched Labyrinth, it changed the way I thought. I remember, in winter, a huge puddle formed downtown, and the top layer would crust over with ice. My sister and I discovered that if you broke the crust in the middle, then stepped on the edge, it would bubble — our very own Bog of Eternal Stench. I’ve forgotten whole years of my childhood, but I remember that puddle like it was yesterday.
And David Bowie was a part of that. Jareth was a force of nature, a celestial being, a kind of immortal that I had not yet known. He was the kind of beast that stole babies from their cribs and tried to seduce the heroine to the dark side. He was evil, but in a way that made you want to be evil, too.
As I got older, and my musical tastes diverged from my parents’ love of all things Country and Western, I heard Space Oddity. I heard Heroes. I heard Rebel Rebel. I heard him play the part of Ziggy Stardust, and he was so charismatic, so otherworldly. He was experiencing the earth as if from somewhere else, and that spoke to me. As the kind of person who has always questioned where they belonged, I got David Bowie. I felt like he got me.
I didn’t know David Bowie. He was an entertainer and an artist. He was a father and a husband. There are those in this world who truly mourn his loss, today, in a way that I cannot, and my heart goes out to them. I hope that they find peace.
But, for me… this world glitters a little less, today, than it did yesterday. There is less Stardust in our sky. There is a little less magic. The Goblin King is dead. All hail the King.
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may God’s love be with you