As I was thinking about what to write this week, I was thinking a lot about David Bowie, and then I heard the news about Alan Rickman. Both aged 69. Both died of cancer. Both chose to keep their illness secret. The news of both their deaths shocked their fans to their cores. Both did the work that they loved until their last minute on this Earth.
David Bowie’s music is part of the soundtrack of my youth. Alan Rickman played roles that will forever be his, marking them with his unique style. I admire both their bodies of work and I am saddened by the news. The arts truly suffered a significant loss this week.
But this is where things get interesting.
“Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast”
When the news of David Bowie’s passing was publicized my Facebook news feed had almost no other news. Everyone I knew and everyone they knew seemed to post sad thoughts, memories, favorite songs, favorite movie scenes, how David Bowie influenced their lives, tributes, and anything else connected to David Bowie.
In Israel this week, the political left and right are pretty much at each other’s throats right now. But all of their noise was drowned out by David Bowie. People who normally don’t post on Facebook posted tributes. People from every political viewpoint posted about David Bowie. Video of David Bowie coming to Israel in 1996 found its way online within a few hours. Stories of David Bowie’s connection to Kabbalah made their way online.
Over the next days, I saw even more stories connecting David Bowie to everything. Society. Change. Accepting oneself. Reinventing oneself. Fashion. Music. Art. Film. And cancer, of course. The most unusual link was Could Big Data have saved David Bowie?
Here is my Facebook post about David Bowie. And that’s the point of this essay. David Bowie transcended everything. I even mentioned him in my recent Christmas post. His rendition of Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth with Bing Crosby is really the story of his legacy. The musician presented his passion and music as a gift and with that perhaps we might eventually have peace on Earth.
He played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige. Other actors could have played Tesla, of course, but with his eyes of different colors; his forward thinking; his constant striving to reinvent himself, his music, his life; no one else should have played him except David Bowie.
In the Jewish tradition, when someone dies, we say “may his [or her] memory be a blessing.” I think David Bowie’s memory will be a blessing for many, many people all around the world. And at least for a few days, the world put aside their differences and united in remembering his music and art. That sounds like a blessing to me.