Ashes to ashes, starman to stardust

David Bowie didn’t create art; David Bowie was art.


We were all set to run a David Bowie feature on the 17th, looking at what new artists can learn from his latest album Blackstar. While we may have dismissed the title track itself in the past, there remains much to be learned from the album itself.

However fate, as it seems, has transpired against our best laid plans. David Bowie has passed away, new music from his marvellous mind never again to grace our planet. The pop world collapses. Society mourns. Humanity is empty.

There will never be another David Bowie. That is not to say that no new artist could ever emerge who could change a musical landscape, but it is highly unlikely anybody could emerge to fill his spandex boots. A figure who redefined music, the idea of pop star, fashion, sexual attitudes and (repeatedly) his own identity, Bowie is unimitable.

As such, it feels futile to say what new bands can learn from Bowie. New bands are instantly indebted to Bowie more than they may ever know. Bowie’s ideas and influence have become pop and music gospel, indoctrinated into every new musician who feels the beat of artistry within them.

Reinvention is beautiful and possible is the fundamental message to take away from Bowie. Any artist can decide to change sound, it takes a special talent to not just pull it off flawlessly every time but also to reinvent the whole image and perception of themselves. His latest and final album, Blackstar, saw Bowie embrace the jazz influence that has stayed with him his whole life, throw his own pop elements into it, and then dip in trace amounts of modern music. That’s how we get things like the unexpectedly intense drum ‘n’ bass outro to Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime).

What’s more, an artist’s creativity does not stop at the music. A true artist will immerse themselves within the artform and live it. Breathe it. Become it. Bowie, once known as the mere mortal David Jones, finely tuned every aspect of his identity and became art. From there he perpetually adjusted to remain artistic. Even his death, foreshadowed elegantly and tear-inducingly graciously in the video to Lazarus, was a work of art.

Bowie bowed out with humble grace, leaving memories of a life that was not just a testament to his art but a continuation of it. As a result, David Bowie is immortal. There is no one thing we can learn from Bowie, but millions. Every detail and shade of the beautiful canvas that was his being and his life are worthy of intense study, in the hopes that one day – with luck – we too may become eternal.

After all, we are all made with the same stardust as he.

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