David Bowie: You’ll Always Be A Hero To Me

When tormented musicians perish I overrelate. It becomes more about me than the departed. 

This is about him. 

David Bowie. The King of ‘Sound and Vision,’ crossed divides of age, fame, race, sexuality, politics, and style with theatrical flair and fun. 

In his latest video, “Lazarus,” he sings about being ‘free as the bluebird,’ with ‘nothing left to lose.’

He’s immortal to me. Collaborators like Iggy Pop and Lou Reed say he co-wrote songs jumpstarting their commercial success. Without his help, they say, they’d have remained ‘underground’ forever. 

And he did it without asking them to give up their individuality. He valued it. 

Using style as medium, his influence on fashion will endure. Over fifty years he made twenty seven albums. He worked in film, fashion, stage, art, television and music.

He played each note of his life as if it was his last.

He knew the power of an entrance. And an exit. A strong believer in the importance of imagery, he controlled what we saw and knew.

Is death another role, a careful construct  like ‘Ziggy’ or ‘Major Tom?’

All the trappings are there. A brand new album, “Blackstar,” an art exhibit, an upcoming two-date memorial/tribute at Carnegie and Radio City Music Halls, a final birthday, (age 69), two spectacular videos (that we know of), and a new Off Broadway production, “Lazarus;” the sequel to his  1976  movie “The Man Who Fell to Earth.”

Missing is the interplanetary tour. But you can take your own. I plan to.

When I heard of David Bowie’s passing last week I realized how grateful I am for his contribution to my world.

I’d grown up a loner, an outsider, in an upscale rural area with few, distant neighbors. My mother was ill and couldn’t drive us places. I had unipolar depression and had tried to commit suicide. I was thirteen.

My lifeline was my AM/FM radio. I took it everywhere and held on for dear life.

When Bowie released “Young Americans” in 1975, here was this former glam rocker turned androgynous funkster; cigarette smoke wafting above the fusion of Soul, Pop and Rock.

If the musical genres were blurry, his message was clear.  It was cool to be a weirdo or an alien. If the world made room for David Bowie, I’d find a place too.

David Bowie stood for as many things as against.

In the 80’s he took on MTV and their star Video Jockey (VJ) Mark Goodman (on live television) regarding the lack of diversity on the two-year-old cable music outlet. Where were the black artists, he wanted to know?

When he wasn’t able to create equal airplay, his video “Let’s Dance” featured an aboriginal couple. He had the last laugh.

Every album had a new look and sound. As soon as someone was able to coin it or categorize it he changed again.

Recalling all the quick,  “blink and you’ll miss it” shapeshifting I realized David Bowie had a sense of humor.

When had I last laughed?

I have been going though some difficult situations lately and feel like I have been discriminated against for something related to my mental health.

David Bowie would have stood up for me, championed me and my cause, which is still a message of hope.

I still need to lighten my load, take myself less seriously. He would have wanted that.

I can’t measure myself by achievements any longer. I’ve stopped overscheduling  and don’t answer all the phone calls. I need headroom in order to think more clearly and make better decisions.

My next move is orientation for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, (DBT) a class teaching new coping skills, a new tool box, or, if you will, an artist’s palette for life.

I can explore my creative options and turn agony into art, maybe even something lively, like the music David Bowie released before his final exit.

His was life’s greatest disappearing act. His death seemed as if he’d vanished into thin air. That’s how he wanted it to look.

I don’t think David Bowie had a mental health diagnosis besides his self professed cocaine addiction. If he did, we’ll never know. He wouldn’t have wanted us to.

One of my favorite songs is the title song from the movie “Cat People.” I love the lyrics.

“And I’ve been putting out fire…with gasoline!”

Then there’s “Fascination,” and “TVC-15.”

I’ll never forget “Heroes.”

He’ll always be a Hero to me.

Read the rest of Allison’s posts for IBPF here. Allison has also written for NAMI Not Alone and has personal blogs on WordPress and Tumblr.You can find her on Facebook where she has a closed group to share coping strategies for living with bipolar disorder. 

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