The following is a letter I wrote in 2011 to David Bowie; followed by my own reflection reading it.
Dear Mr Bowie,
There are many questions I want to ask you, here I lay on my bed listening to Ziggy Stardust on repeat.
There will be many people who think I am an “old soul”, or that you’re my “grandfather’s music”, but I don’t care – you were there for me in my troubled times this year more than the people whom I’ve come to known.
There will be people who think I’m crazy for thinking someone who doesn’t know I exist knows what I’m going through – and I still don’t care.
Was there ever a time you feared what people thought of you? People think I’m weird, that I don’t belong in their eyes. I must say I am different in a lot of ways. For example, I didn’t understand why my peers love Bieber, One Direction – I don’t feel what they felt listening to them. It must have been the same for you. You were the vision, the future in their eyes. You were ahead of the people in your time. You seemed so brave, you seemed like you couldn’t care what people thought of you. You dressed however you liked, you are like me – different. You taught me to be myself through your music.
Was there a time you felt alone – like no one understood or made sense of what you wanted to say. Your lyrics are one of a kind, it transported me to another universe. You got me dreaming, you got me to a safe place even with the chaos and the full knowledge that trouble was brewing and it was only a matter of time before the volcano erupted. Your music muted the screams and cries from across the house, and it soothed me when no one else could. I do wonder, when you wrote these wonderful escapes – did it feel lonely to be the only one who could understand the noise in your head? Because I feel that now, at least no one around me.
How does it feel like to stand out from a pool of conformists, and be the only David Bowie? I notice while skimming through your music on all your albums, that you have many (too many) alter egos. However through it all, you are still the David Bowie. Most people would hear your record, and know, this is something special. Is it weird to know that people know “David Bowie”? Your name alone carries so much influence and power in the music industry. Is it nice to know that major artists now cite you as an inspiration? That now, these people come out and are able to relate to you? Is it weird though, that when I hear musicians like Lady Gaga, that I think of you?
So dear Mr. Bowie, I know you will never see this, and even if you did… I hope I make sense. I’ve always been that strange, weird kid that no one liked. So this is a thank you, even though I only came to know your music 40 years later and in my time of crisis. Thank you for inspiring me to be myself. Your music gave me the courage to express who I am fearlessly. Thank you for giving me a safe place to dream and block out the sad reality at home. I can’t tell anyone what’s happening, so this was the best thing that could happen to me.
p.s. I hope you can come to Singapore for a concert, I will go.
Thank you, Mr Bowie.
I found this gem in my google docs folder that I wrote in 2011. I can vaguely remember the circumstances and why I felt it necessary to write a letter to David Bowie. I am aware that this appears to be one of those posts where people over exaggerate their “love” for such an icon, and that I appear to be a bandwagon fan. Well, I’m not.
I have been a Bowie fan ever since 2011, I was listening to Duran Duran on Youtube, watching an interview and they cited him as an icon, an inspiration to their music (which I loved). I went to type “David Bowie” in and clicked the first video on it (Ziggy Stardust) – I immediately fell in love. I felt a connection, that his music spoke to me. I felt that Ziggy lived in me as well. I was going through a tough time in my family and in school at that point, and his music provided solace. It wasn’t something I could describe, it was an unspeakable happiness that I couldn’t put to words to describe how I felt about his music. There was something unique, that no pop song could emulate. It was beautiful, and I watched his videos and concerts. His theatrical presence was amazing, he told me a story through his performance in general. I knew I was watching something special.
It’s been 5 years since then, and he still continues to inspire me. I feel a sense of comfort, warmth, familiarity even. I lost a lot of my 2011 self and moulded into someone quite different. When I heard that David Bowie had passed away from cancer, I was shocked and sad. Shocked because, I didn’t know he had that sickening illness, and sad that, I felt so disconnected. As I listen to his music now, I feel the same in a completely different way. Maybe because I am older, but I still cry and sing off-key when Under Pressure/Life on Mars/Ziggy Stardust/Heroes play.
It’s been 5 months since his death, and I still continue to listen to his music when I feel down, depressed or when I need to brighten up by dancing to Let’s Dance. I still put Ziggy Stardust on repeat when I go for an evening run. I still never fail to cite Bowie as an inspiration, a legend who made an impact on my life in a way that no one understands. It makes me a little sad that I’ll never see him alive, but I guess God needed him more.
Rest well, Mr Bowie.
edit: it’s been a few weeks since I posted this on my old inactive blog. I’m slowly moving it all here, consolidating my writing and hoping to make this a more regular posting blog.