Though I don’t know his music as well as some people I know, I consider myself a big fan of David Bowie. The very first song of his that I heard was Space Oddity, and I listened to it on a $40,000 hi-fi stereo system built by a friend’s dad. You can probably tell how much of an impact that experience has left on me.
Bowie passed away early this week, as everyone knows by now. Two days before his death he released an album, and it was supposedly his parting gift to his fans. He had planned to leave this world soon after its launch.
“Look up here, I’m in heaven…”
When I heard this, it struck a chord inside of me. I looked up as if the ceiling was not there and I was staring into the cold dark sky outside, and somehow I felt something connect, something mysterious, haunting, a deep sadness, yet at the same time, a beautiful connection. I think in Japanese, we would call this emotion/experience “Yugen” (幽玄).
For me, “yugen” is something I usually feel when I’m out in the wilderness or mountains far from civilization, or upon seeing a particularly beautiful painting. Never have I felt it from music until today. I am amazed at how he was able to touch my life in such a way. And what’s even more amazing is that this experience wouldn’t have been possible without his death. To put it another way, his death makes his final work complete.
In that sense, the creation of Blackstar is truly remarkable. It is in all aspects life and death and art as one, being that the album is the culmination of his awesome journey through life as a musician, and a masterpiece completed with no less than his mortality.
Without a doubt David Bowie is a true artist. Thank you very much for your wonderful, wonderful music. May you rest in peace.