The world has been mourning the loss of David Bowie over the last several days, and if we needed further evidence, his death has revealed just how profound an impact his work has had on us both culturally and individually.
Each of us has our own personal experience with Bowie, or more often, a series of them.
Like many, my earliest introduction was via “Labyrinth” and his indelible portrayal of the Goblin King. I don”t even think I connected the dots that this was the same man who played Pontius Pilate in Martin Scorsese's “The Last Temptation of Christ” when my parents introduced me to that film a few years later, another that made an imprint one me that remains to this day.
Bowie”s work has been with me throughout my life, whether as an inspiration as a student in film school or to serve to spark my imagination as a child.
It”s one night as an adolescent, however, that I remember best. My friends and I, like many others, often turned to “retro” music in our youth. We”d discovered Ziggy Stardust and were true believers.
One muggy summer night in Brooklyn my best friend and I watched Spike Lee”s “Jungle Fever” and became, as teenagers do, quite despondent. This was a time period in which I”d discovered that strangers felt at liberty to make audible judgments about my interracial relationship, which also happened to be my first.
That night, my friend and I sat on her stoop feeling as if there was no hope for humanity, wondering why we, as humans, allow narrow minds and small hearts to rule us.
Then, out of nowhere, this very sweet and happy couple come strolling down the street. It happened to be an African American man and a white woman. They were singing Ziggy Stardust to each other and were just beaming. Glowing. They stopped in front of us and waved half-singing, “Goodnight girls!” That moment is as vividly present for me now as it was then. I can see, sense, and nearly feel them. We”d needed a light, and there it was. That couple, on that night, singing that song allowed us to believe that everything was going to be okay.
“Love wins!” we hallelujahed to the night. And I still have hope that it does.
In the video above and below Eric Eisenberg and I try and make sense of Bowie”s impact on our lives and the world the morning after his passing, as we take stock of some of his greatest performances. Take a look and chat with us here or on Twitter.
Meanwhile, here”s what Scorsese had to say about the icon in a statement to EW.
“It”s a shock to think that David Bowie is gone. There”s a song on his album Low called ‘Speed of Life,” and that”s the speed at which he seemed to move – his music and his image and his focus were always changing, always in motion, and with every movement, every change, he left a deep imprint on the culture.”