Not only does it feel incorrect to pen an in-memoriam about David Bowie, but it is, more or less, physically impossible. Try it. A person of such elaborate scope cannot be summed up, nor can his creations be detailed any better than they were by the person himself. Yet here we are, a year since his passing, left to look at what January gave us: the birth of one of the most influential musicians of all time as well as the death of one of the most influential musicians of all time. The time in between those two moments was a stretch of 69 years, not a second of which Bowie let go to waste.
He forecasted his entire career with the release of “Space Oddity” in 1969. “I’m stepping through the door / And I’m floating in a most peculiar way / And the stars look very different today,” he sings. “For here, am I sitting in a tin can / Far above the world / Planet Earth is blue / And there’s nothing I can do.” He’s a man observing from afar, caught in awe, eyes focused on sadness, a helplessness mulling inside him. And yet, isn’t that how we all feel? Not to get too stoner bro on you, but it’s a humanness of complex opposites existing simultaneously while feeling detached. Instead of letting that cut ties, Bowie knew how to grip them tighter, shake the reins, and remind people on the other end that it’s okay to be blue as long as you’re willing to do the work to keep moving.
So how do music fans go about remembering Bowie? Fans of his early work and those who cherished his experimental phases can agree on one thing: When it comes to honoring David Bowie, it must be done through mediums of the heart—song and dance—shared with others. Belt out those high notes and kick your foot in the air. It’s what Ziggy Stardust lived for.
When scanning his catalog, it becomes clear Bowie was a man of imagination and wonder, someone who valued possibility over expectation. He questions life in outer space with a type of delivery that prizes hopefulness alongside gratitude. His ballads rock with a full heart. Everything Bowie wrote brimmed with curiosity and gentleness like he knew how to cradle us as the world fell apart. But it’s his uptempo numbers—“Modern Love,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Fame,” etc.—that act as a call to action. He urges listeners to stand up and move: fight for your right to love, fight for your right to equality, fight for your right to be weird.
Consider this an annual challenge. Head over to Model Cafe in Allston and see how long you last upholding it. Bust out your best moves for “Golden Years” and practice slow swings for “The Man Who Sold the World.” Its DJ plans to pull out all the old classics plus a stack of rarities and B-sides right off the wax. Requests are welcome. Best of all, the volume will be cranked all the way up, all night long. What did you expect? This is Allston, after all, a neighborhood for outcasts, punks, and creative folks, all of whom looked up to the Starman himself for inspiration.
David Bowie left us on Jan 10 of last year. On Sunday, we celebrate his birthday, and we sing and dance and cheer with all the love and joy he continues to channel into us from the stars (or maybe Mars) above.
BOWIE’S BIRTHDAY BASH. SUN 1.8. MODEL CAFE, 7 NORTH BEACON ST., ALLSTON. 10PM/21+/FREE.