Never one to conform, David Bowie inspired a generation of artists and the world with his ground-breaking performance storytelling style and lyricism. David Bowie taught us how to dance, how to dress, how to wear makeup, how to be intimate, how to be alone, how to escape the chains of a world that doesn’t always understand us, how to look to upwards to the bright lights in the sky for the answers, how to be cool, how to not care if you’re cool, how to retreat into the dark recesses of our minds, how to shine.
But most importantly, the legendary rock icon, who died on Sunday at age 69 after a secret 18 month battle with cancer, taught us how to just BE. How to be our unashamed, authentic selves.
David Bowie declared himself “apolitical” yet he taught us how to be a rebel-rebel. He declared himself a freak, but we all identified. He taught us so many things this could turn into a very long blog post. Here are just a few of the ways David Bowie changed us, and as a result changed the way we interact with the world and ourselves.
Bowie never took the easy way. From the way he carried himself to the choices he made musically, he defined someone who wasn’t afraid to risk it all. Changing producers at the last minute, not going with the ‘popular’ trends, he set the stage for himself at every corner. Obviously, his decisions were a huge success but did he know that at the time? No way. Just goes to show that if you reside in your authenticity, risks can be greatly worth it.
Don’t be predictable
Impossible to predict, the always original musician was in a constant state of change. At the launch of every new album, there was a new persona, each one being harder to predict than the one before. Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke to Elephant Man, the music icon kept everyone guessing. In his words,
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”
Make your own rules
Rather than following the rules, Bowie thumbed his nose at the rulebooks. He told The Word in 2003, “All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.” Meaning… he’s not pandering to his audience. He shares himself 100% of the time and as you well know, his audiences loved him for it. He even turned down a Knighthood from the Queen in 2003. Unlike Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Elton John or Sir Paul McCartney, Bowie he did not want to become Sir David.
The king of reinvention, Bowie wasn’t afraid to express his true self. From the shock of red hair, bright makeup, and skin-tight bodysuit of Ziggy Stardust to the riveting bolt of lightning of Aladdin Sane, all of Bowie’s stage personas were united by their individuality. In the words of Bowie himself, “I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human. I felt very puny as a human. I thought, “F**k that. I want to be a superhuman.”