Last night I checked out a monthly literary and music event called Library Girl. Each month the theme for the evening is inspired by a musical artist, and a line from a song. This evening’s inspiration was “Hot Tramp, I Love You So” from the David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel,” one of those songs I don’t remember hearing for the first time, but which seems like it has been ever-present and familiar.
I attended the event because a friend was reading, not out of any great Bowie fandom, but the choice to go seemed particularly fitting when I saw the first obituary only a few hours after.
This morning I watched the music video released on his 69th birthday, two days before his death. It’s called “Lazarus.”
I’ve been extra aware, lately, of aging artists, and thinking about what it means to age as an artist, recognized or unrecognized. I was affected by this depiction, not only of dying, but of the continuing struggle to create, to think of the right phrase, to make art even through, even out of, the process of dying. So much comes into play in this video: Bowie’s age, his illness, his celebrity, his ironic stance. It’s not bombastic. I’d guess it’s exactly what he set out to make — a fitting goodbye.
I’ll keep this post short and wrap up with a poppy, boppy song that permeated my teen years, the kind of song that I could imagine (if not remember) being a pep-band song at our basketball games: