David Bowie’s impact

Jan. 10, 2021

When I was in my teens during the 1970s, I first became a David Bowie fan. I loved Bowie’s androgynous allure, his aesthetics, as well as his music. He reminded me of a 20th century Dorian Gray, a Decadent from another time, another world. Having always been a loner and a bit of an outsider, I felt akin to him in many ways. He lived the kind of life I fantasized about. At that time I could not imagine myself living to be as old as I currently am. I didn’t want to grow up, drive a car, be stuck in an unfulfilling job, or have kids. I just wanted to pursue my passions–writing, playing piano, and listening to music. Bowie seemed to me to be the eternal misfit rock and roll king, free, defiant, unlimited by gender or society’s conceptions. I remember attending my first David Bowie concert, in about 1977, at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, MI, with my cousin Shelley. To celebrate Bowie’s fashion influence and my own aesthetic quirkiness, I wore my grandfather’s Masonic Lodge uniform–a black velvet robe-type jacket with some silk patches and some metal buttons, if I recall. I put a fake flower in the lapel. Although Bowie was late and didn’t play that many songs, it was still a wonderful experience I am thankful to have had. Unlike a lot of contemporary performers, whose songs seem to embody the most crass, shallow, narcissistic, commercialistic tendencies of our media-obsessed society, David Bowie’s music often addressed metaphysical, ,philosophical, and psychological themes. Instead of perpetuating oppressive societal paradigms associated with materialism, superficiality and conformity, David Bowie combined elements of science fiction and spirituality to create his own mythology celebrating individuality, diversity, gender fluidity, creativity, and a non-dogmatic quest for personal truth.

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Writings by Alison Armstrong