Ziggy Stardust is in the Firmament

by Kathy Custren

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're going through

Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can't trace time

--Changes, by David Bowie, 1972

Monday, January 11, 2016 marked the news of the passing of David Bowie on Sunday; a rather timeless and influential performer who embraced a multitude of changes in his public persona over the years. While David Bowie's music was the soundtrack for so many in my generation, I could best relate to the more cosmic appeal of his popularity...characters like Ziggy Stardust, Starman, or Major Tom from “Space Oddity.”

As the news spread across both conventional and social media outlets, retrospectives began about the man and his music. David Bowie went through some colorful transformations over his five-decade career. From his rise to greater fame in the 1970s during the 'glam rock' era, Bowie walked the edge, both in art and person. As I grew into young adulthood, Bowie's often controversial characterisms continued to shock the elders and thrill the youngsters, eventually winning both sides of the audience around the time he sang “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth” with the late Bing Crosby in 1977.

Considered by many to be an avant-garde artist, actor, and musician, fans learned to expect the unexpected where Bowie was concerned...and respect it. If we got used to seeing him in long hair, it would get cut short or dyed another color entirely. Bowie wore the androgynous clothes and style with such panache, that he often set the standard for how to be both outlandish and down to earth while keeping his head in the stars, simultaneously.

By the time David Bowie was honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, he and his music styles had already enriched a generation, and Bowie continued to write and perform, up to his final days. Leaving us just a few days after his 69th birthday, in the face of an 18-month long battle with cancer, many of us still carry a thought in the back of our mind that this is just another typical move, and that another reinvention is just around the corner.

Rest in peace, Ziggy Stardust, as we salute David Bowie's gifts and legacy.

References:

Lyrics courtesy: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/davidbowie/changes.html
General: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Bowie#Career

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