David Bowie, musician (1947-2016)

You may have seen in the news, and a few parishioners have posted online, that musician David Bowie died today after a long illness. I’m not a huge fan of David Bowie’s music. I’m more a Beatles and Springsteen guy. But David Bowie’s music and imagination, particularly “Space Oddity” (AKA “Major Tom”) helped me imagine space travel, a favorite topic growing up as an Apollo-era kid. Born David Robert Jones in South London, Bowie’s biographical material says that as a child he loved early rock ‘n’ roll. Years later he would say that when he first listened to Little Richard, he “heard God.” He went on to take that love of music and make something new with it. As an adult, I came to grudgingly appreciate the way his art and life embodied comfort with being an outsider or being unusual.  For me it signaled a change from seeing outsider status or being unusual as an end – end of social acceptance, end of meeting other people’s expectations, end of conformity as the high point of becoming who we are – to a beginning. There’s some Easter in that, although I doubt Bowie himself ever would have phrased it that way. So, ashes to ashes, dust to stardust. Rest in peace and rise in glory, David Bowie.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, commander of the International Space Station and a musician, in 2013 paid tribute to Bowie, covering “Space Oddity” from aboard the space station. Here’s the video.