Following the death of David Bowie earlier this week, an atrocious Tweet not only made the headlines, but made my blood boil. Normally, I wouldn’t use my personal FB feed to lash out (the action is, I hope, fairly unlike me). However, I was so utterly outraged, I felt compelled to reply. Since my post, I have had time to think. And though I don’t regret my challenge, I have spent a while contemplating what could possibly have prompted the Tweet in the first place.
David Bowie touched and influenced generations. For many, his was the voice of their youth. For others, his was the LP discovered amongst a parents’ or grandparents’ collection which, years later, still resonated. He was brave, and he was individual. A man not frightened to experiment, David’s determination to evolve meant he remained current. As we grew older, so did he; as our professional directions changed, so did his. David Bowie’s music became the soundtrack to our individual life movies. Perhaps we might be forgiven, therefore, for assuming he’d be there to play out our final credits.
I was never lucky enough to meet David Bowie, and I would never claim to be a dedicated fan. But I did weep when I heard the news of his death, and across the world, more ardent fans are still weeping. And whilst the vast majority of them were never known by Bowie personally, surely the joy he brought to their lives makes him a friend, of sorts, to them?
I wondered if the Tweeter, experiencing a heightened level of emotion prompted by their grief, had simply knee-jerked. Yet, the Tweet was almost possessive, as though the writer believed that only certain individuals had the right to ‘own’ Bowie’s death. Firstly, only David could do that. And secondly, though we’re all guilty of it – chastising our grief because we believe someone is more worthy – we are still prone to believe that levels of grief are validated by levels of association.
But death and grief aren’t as simple as all that. And every tear shed by David’s fans is every bit as valid as any shed by his family. Because every tear is real.
I have been knocked sideways by death twice in recent years. And both times, the outpouring from others, both known and unknown to me, has been immense. However, the difference between my and my Tweeter’s reaction to it is this. Firstly, rather than protest that my grief was more valid than another’s, the thought that I was not alone in my sorrow came as a great comfort; grief can be a very lonely place. And secondly, my love and adoration for those whom I’d lost was utterly validated by the views, memories and experiences expressed by others.
I’m not going to brood on the Tweet any longer – I have a book to write – but I will finish by saying that, contrary to the misguided views of one, I’m sure David’s close friends and family are hugely grateful for every kind word and emotion expressed by every one of his fans…
…And I’m sure, as he swaps stories with Syd Barrett and they contemplate, that perhaps from where they’re now sitting, the Star isn’t so black, or that side of the Moon isn’t so Dark, David is very grateful too!
With love to the most beautiful of Goblin Kings. Xxx