I’ve long been fascinated by David Bowie. Bowie the man, not Bowie the musician. My love of his music came much later.
Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, being gay was less acceptable than it is now. So, for much of that time, I was closeted, struggling, and, not even really sure what being gay meant. I just new that I was different from all the other males around me. I never thought of Bowie as gay, just that he was different. To watch him, to look at him, I just knew that he could understand what it was like to be different, and that he knew what it was like to be made fun of for being different. I admired, and was jealous of, his ability to publicly revel in his differentness. Ziggy Startdust might not seem so different in todays world, but, back in the mid-70s, Ziggy was about as different as it gets.
I didn’t understand the music then. It didn’t appeal to me. I was caught up in the Divas Of The Day: Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, Donna Summer, Karen Carpenter, Olivia Newton-John, Pat Benatar, Annie Lennox. Bowie’s music was much too different, much too odd. But, I was still fascinated with him. I loved encountering new photos of him in my mom’s magazines, relishing each image, and knowing that somewhere, wherever he was, there was someone who, if I told him of my struggles, would tell me “It’s Okay.”
The 1908s turned into the 1990s, and Bowie’s music became a bit more “pop”, a bit more mainstream, and, I began to see the appeal of his music. And, ok, I’ll admit, when he had the blond hair, and the tight suits, I fell a bit in love.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30s that I began to really listen to his older music, and, I could really appreciate how brilliant he is.
It’s been a decade since he’s had any new music, and, imagine my surprise when I ran across his new song and video last night, a song that was just released this week, from his forthcoming album The Next Day, being released on March 11. From the video comments, it seems there’s a mixed reaction to the song — I guess this is true of most music: music does not appeal to everyone equally. My first reaction was tears. I don’t quite know why. I think it’s the nostalgia for days long gone. Some of it is the beautiful music — it’s so sad and melancholy. I like the song more and more with each listen.
Dear Mr. Bowie: Thanks for the great new song. Thanks for all the years of letting me know that Different is something to celebrate.
Sincerely, with much affection,
That One Different Kid. The one from Aurora.
(For more on the new album, check out this article from The Sun)