The world received a right blow to the soul today on the passing of David Bowie. Although we knew he had suffered from health problems over the years that caused the canceling of performance dates, we were shocked that he’d hidden his battle with cancer for the last eighteen months. That unto itself, that Bowie would choose to focus solely on writing, recording, and producing his last gift to the world in the form of the Blackstar album, versus letting us know of his terminal illness, is not shocking. It is true form Bowie.
Taking many hours to walk through each piece of Bowie’s innovative history at the “David Bowie Is” exhibition at the V&A Museum, you learned how this relentless creator worked his craft in all its facets. Pouring over handwritten notes, lyric sheets, photos of his youth, while hearing his voice tell tales on how songs came to be, was pure joy. Sitting in the large screening room, surrounded by footage of his live Diamond Dogs show, was surreal to say the least. I didn’t want to leave (hiding in the bathroom until after the musuem closed went through my mind, but I chose otherwise).
I’m truly grateful for that experience, for the little Italian man outside the museum, selling his extra ticket to the sold-out show because his wife couldn’t attend. It was beautiful serendipity.
Seeing David Bowie perform at the Area Festival (thank you Moby) in 2002, and being able to shoot that show seems like a dream, looking back on it now. I was beyond excited and have yet to have such trouble concentrating on working the camera versus standing in awe of the man just a few feet away. Backstage afterwards us photographers were shuffled to a specific area as Bowie made his way through so we wouldn’t rush the poor guy. Royalty was visiting, so this protocol was highly appropriate.
No, Bowie made no mention of his battle with cancer, he instead chose to let us know he was not long on this physical plane through his music. From “Lazarus,” the song opens, ”Look up here, I’m in Heaven…I’ve got scars that can’t be seen…” Was the bejeweled remains of the spaceman in the video for “Blackstar” another subtle message?
There will never be another man, another artist like David Bowie. His was a life well lived and a testament to what is possible. The only boundaries we have are the ones we create ourselves. Thank you Starman for taking those wondrous ideas in your beautiful mind and sharing them with all of us. You will be deeply, deeply missed.
I saw a post by Gaz Coombes this morning on Facebook that came from a friend of his, which rang so true, “If you’re ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie.”