Yesterday morning, I found out that a very large part of my academic formation and work, died. David Bowie was 69 years old. No one lives forever, but we don't always think of our celebrities as real people. We see them mediated, outside of the normal stream of time. As I write this, I'm listening to Bowie's voice, back from the grave: "Ain't it just like me," he sings.
Back around 1993, I remember hearing the first strains of _Black Tie White Noise_ in an Ottawa CD store, and I walked out with that album. "You've Been Around" was the catalyst that began my academic pursuits, I think. Once _Outside_ came out in 1995, I was hooked. I remember talking to one of my music profs about the music on that album, about what was going on there, the "problem" that needed to be "solved."
Bowie became the subject matter of my Master's thesis. Antonella Bilich Greco and I listened to Bowie constantly during that time, in the TA office at McMaster.
When we saw Bowie in concert in Montreal in 2004, we were told to sit down by those sitting behind us, who seemingly were only there for the hits. And we did.
When I had the opportunity to revisit some of my earlier scholarship for the book, I happily did so, (re)discovering that Bowie was still the "problem" that needed to be "solved," and a delightful one at that.
Yesterday was a whirlwind, with something like eight media interviews throughout the day, not to mention a blurb for a Greek daily newspaper. And then a first class.
We don't know these celebrities, but we feel like we do. Yesterday, my friends and colleagues sent messages of condolence and stopped by my office. And I thank them for that.
And I thank David Bowie for his music. If it wasn't for him, I'm pretty confident to say that I wouldn't be the scholar--or the person--I am today.