Friday, January 15, 2016

This Is Not An Ode To David Bowie

This week has been plagued with death and not even the good our-dreams-of-a-zombie-apocalypse-have-finally-come-true kind. We have lost our muses and our mentors. I wanted to write this after I heard about David Bowie, that's the one that has hurt me the most. The week interrupted my plans but the sentiment is still here days later.
Returned to the Stars, 1947-2016

This post has nothing to do with zombies, monsters, horror or any apocalyptic scenario. Unless you consider this an artist apocalypse. Let's go with that. Otherwise, I don't care. I write what I want.

I love David Bowie. I can not remember not loving him. When I was a kid, I knew his music without knowing his face; I had to wait till Labyrinth for that. Luckily, the wait was short and one of the most memorable parts of my childhood. Labyrinth was one of my favorite movies, tied with Legend. I wanted to be Sarah. I wanted to wear the beautiful gown, explore the Labyrinth, and I wanted the goblin king to take my brother away; really, really wanted to get rid of my brother. The only flaw I saw in Sarah was at the end, when she turned Jareth down. His offer to come away with him, to have everything but just do what he says... oh yeah, I would have gone. I was still waiting for him to come take me away when I heard the news. Sure my brother is older and now one of my best friends but there were still pretty dresses, goblins, puzzles, and dancing to be done!

Oh yes, Jareth, I do!!!

But as I said, this is not an ode to David Bowie. It is not a memorial. Nor is it a retrospect of his many personalities through the years, the way he flawlessly reinvented himself with only help from the stars. No not an ode. I refuse to close my eyes and think of the way his music filled me, inspired me, moved me. Not right now. Every great muse is eternal. This is a call to action.

Music has been and will always be my first love. I wrote songs in Kindergarten, recorded on my My First Sony and performed for my family on my Star Stage. I have no idea how my family tolerated me. As I got older, I learned to play instruments but continued my preference for singing. I would sing constantly and without inhibition. I didn't care if I was good but I believed I was and it wasn't till high school that I started to hesitate. Music is not a career, not realistic, this is a waste of time, even if you're good, what are the chances.  There were no believers. I took to poetry. It was personal, private, often filled with angst and most importantly, an outlet. I wrote everyday. wrote everywhere, rhymes flowed and I still heard music. At 18, I immersed myself in the DC music scene. Spoken word, art, live music and writers everywhere. There was magic! An unmistakable feeling of euphoria when you stepped in a room of artists. Those artists are still some of the best people I have ever met and I love them dearly. But I was scared. I performed on the same stage as Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald but I always held back. I was scared to take chances, to take a risk that would shed the skin suit I would wear of what was ordinary. To be myself, what I felt inside means being vulnerable to judging eyes. So I quit.
I kid you not; I sang anything. circa 1989. Me, my brother clearly not taken by the Goblin King, and the uncle responsible for introducing me to Star Wars and popular music. Thank you for everything, Uncle Phil.

If you've met me, you may have heard a number of reasons as to what led to me hanging up the mic but it all boils down to one thing: Fear.

David Bowie wasn't scared. His passion transcended any definition of "good." He just was. He was amazing.

I tell you this not because I think it's interesting but so you understand why I feel so strongly. Why I believe we need action. I speak not just to you, dear reader, but to myself. No matter how you happened upon these words I need you to witness that the fire has not been extinguished and dares to burn brighter still. We need a call to action. Action from the artists, the dreamers, supporters, lovers, musicians. The creators. We grieve our idols and accept our fate to be a world absent of inspiration. Our future is doomed because the musical movement is lacking and seemingly non-existent. The greats are gone.

This will not be the case.

This is the Apocalypse of the Arts and there will be a rebirth. We will rise from the ash, the soil the past has nurtured and fertilized. We will shed the skin of fear, regret and conformity. We will move forward embracing ourselves, our passions and blossom in the new day. We are of the stars.

We are not canvas, blank and forgettable. We are the ink, the paint, the notes on the scale, the words on the paper. We leave behind us a path no one can follow.

Go create.

It's okay to be spectacular. It's even okay to be terrible. You might inspire someone else. Someone like David Bowie. Someone will remember what you did. Go support others. Buy art, listen to local music, read everything. Explore and let yourself be inspired.

This is not an Ode to David Bowie. This is a call to action.

But Ziggy, you will still be missed.