Rebel Rebel

It wasn’t supposed to begin like this.

I was supposed to have a hip, well-prepped blog article.  I was supposed to get into something philosophical and artsy, like I tend to do.  I was supposed to explain my purpose here on starting this thing and what it would lead to.  I was supposed to explain the name and the tagline at least.  But then, Mr. Bowie was supposed to beat cancer and go on to make so many more innovative and provocative songs.  It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

I don’t know why it’s affected me the way it does.  I mean, I’m not even qualified.  I can use all of my fingers to count how many of my close friends would be better at writing a piece on him.  And I’m sure you’ve read better articles from better people about his history, his music, and his struggle with cancer up until the very end.  Because, you see, I didn’t even know he was sick.  But something stung me when I read the news, and a familiar voice inside my head told me to write about it.  And then that same voice did something it’s never done before: it told me to publish it out into the world.

‘Today.’  Just like that. ‘Write it out, give it a once-over, and send it out.’

No, I said.

‘Be daring, for once in your life’, the voice replied.  The voice could’ve been Mr. Bowie’s.

Writing these twelve years, submitting stories to magazines and getting rejection letters, I’ve realized that my particular narrative style and way of storytelling is not one that ever fit the mold. For a long time, I hated that but was also comfortable with the fact that I was different in a way that is stifling.  I was too afraid to take the next step because I was comfortable where I was–potentially great and proudly obscure.  But today, Mr. Bowie taught me that not only should I not be afraid of being ‘out there’, but that it’s the beginning of an honest and daring style.

One of my favorite Bowie songs is ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’, with Trent Reznor.  I love the song because its so blunt.  I don’t know much about the history of the song, but I’d like to think that Reznor had a good part in its concept because Reznor has shown me that even though we should be very afraid of so many things in our culture, we should not bow down to it but fight against it.  Just like Bowie.  Even the name is daring.  Bowie could’ve just called it ‘I’m afraid of people’ or ‘I’m afraid of Johnny’, alluding to the character in the song.  But he was truthful, in all of what he did as a performer and an artist, and that to me is why he’ll be missed the most. In a world of art forms that either talk down or water down, using either fuzzy abstract images or super-sharp-realism details, while all the while threatening to spin us or trick us, Mr. Bowie was honest and daring. And being honest and daring is very difficult. And he kept being daring all throughout his life!  Time and time again, he’s told us, ‘I’m not like you’, without anger or fear, but with hope and pride.

It’s a daring move to choose to be on the outside looking out instead of in; and that being always adjacent to your art form instead of part of it is not a flaw but a strength (and so I guess I can explain the blog name after all). Now, as I travel down this weird, scary, and exciting road, I will remember and honor Mr. Bowie, who never shied away from being honest with himself and his art.  He was like no one that came before him and he’ll be remembered as someone special long after.  So, Mr. Bowie, from a David on the very opposite end of the spectrum, thank you for striving, gaining, and continuing an artistic life to the very end with hope, with love, with vision, and with honesty.  And with daring.

 

R.I.P

David Robert Jones

1947-2016

 

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