Planet Earth is Blue and There’s Nothing I Can Do…

Some thoughts on David Bowie – musician, actor, and, for me at least, king of the creative misfits.

Ground control to Major Tom,
Your circuit’s dead there’s something wrong,
Can you hear me Major Tom?
Can you hear me Major Tom?
Can you hear me Major Tom?
Can you here… am I floating in my tin can…

– David Bowie, Space Oddity

I was ten years old when I heard those words for the first time. I had no idea who or what a “David Bowie” was, nor did I even know that much about music in general. I just knew that I loved that song. There was something about it that resonated with me. The plaintive loneliness of the music, the fevered cries from Ground Control, the words of a man apparently lost in space but somehow at peace with the idea of floating all alone in his tin can.

The budding writer in me marvelled at the simple yet brilliant transition from “Can you hear” to “Can you here…” It’s a small detail, but among such minutiae, magic is often found.

David Bowie was… more things than I can name here. Most significantly to me he was a symbol that the misfit can stand out if they have the courage to do so. From his constantly shifting wardrobe to his permanently dilated left eye, he was the Lord of the Freaks, the Goblin King, the individualist writ large. To my mind Bowie was a true musician, insofar as he wasn’t hide-bound by genres or “styles.” He went wherever the muse took him. Sometimes people understood, more often they didn’t. And that was as it should be.

As often happens when a famous and admired personage passes out of this corporeal existence, there is a temptation to glorify them, to elevate the person to near sainthood. I never thought of him as a saint, only as a fellow misfit, albeit one far more comfortable in his constantly-shifting skin than I ever could be in mine.

David Bowie was, and remains, a hero to me and to all the creative misfits in this world. I am honestly devastated by his loss, but also pleased beyond measure to know that he was here and that we had the chance to experience his unique gifts.

I’ll leave you with the words of comedian Eddie Izzard, who I think speaks for all of us:

“Please could every radio station around the globe just play David Bowie music today – I think the world owes him that.”

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