“The Stars Look Very Different Today:” David Bowie’s death

On Jan. 11, Bowie fans all around the world woke up to discover the cosmic loss of their beloved Starman.  I was enjoying my last week of real sleep before the spring semester when my 15-year-old sister shook me awake whispering, “David Bowie died yesterday,” and left the room.

Trying to figure out how to handle my emotions, I stayed in bed until my 12-yearold brother came in and said “Hey…” “I know,” I cut him off before having to hear the devastating news again.  He bowed his head in respect and left me to mourn. I heard hits that used to be spun on 45s being played softly from the speakers of my siblings’ smartphones as they got ready for another Monday in sixth and 10th grade.  As 10 seconds of “Space Oddity” interrupted my thought process while my sister walked across the hallway, I couldn’t help but finish the verse in my head, letting my mind take me to my very first Bowie memory.

The 1969 single hummed in the background of our 1998 kitchen conversation while my proud father prompted his brother to look at his 4-year-old daughter- “she knows every word.”  I focused hard on my pink Sketchers swinging from the kitchen table and tried not to think about the fact that all eyes were on me as I belted out my favorite song.

I was three minutes in and past 100,000 miles, captivated by the Starman’s journey, when tears started streaming down my face.  My spaceship had no idea where to go and I couldn’t sing another line through my 4-year-old sobs.  The only explanation I could give my concerned father and uncle was that, “Major Tom is never going to see his wife again.”

That young and emotional reaction became something I’ve been reminded of at numerous family gatherings and will probably never live down.  On Jan. 11, however, I knew that I was finally not alone in my sensitive and passionate response to Bowie’s work.  We, the admiring and mourning fans, all felt the need to do something.

Many people rushed to buy his latest album, “Blackstar,” in their grief.  Billboard reported that the album “debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, giving the late music legend his first No. 1 album.”  With the album coming out on David Bowie’s birthday, Jan. 8, and two days before his death on Jan. 10, dedicated and grieving fans contributed to the 181,000 album sales reported by Billboard in that week alone.

Other fans took a different approach in expressing their emotions, such as Andrea Natella from Rome, who began the petition on change.org, addressing “God or whomever it may concern” to “Say no to David Bowie dead.”  As of Jan. 24, the petition had 11,440 signatures.

Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, spoke for the city in his Proclamation making Jan. 20, “David Bowie Day” in NYC, as announced on the mayor’s Twitter account, where a picture of the official proclamation was posted.  The mayor mentioned Blackstar and the play “Lazarus,” written by Bowie.  He declared that “David Bowie is among the most influential and talented artists of our time,” finding an appropriate home with New Yorkers and their “aversion to the status quo.”

My house, like many others, celebrated Bowie by repeating his music all day and holding a special viewing of “Labyrinth,” an event in which my 18-year-old sister dressed as the Goblin King with hair extensions and tight black pants, including a strategically placed sock.  I’d like to think this silly and provocative act in honor of the androgynous artist is one that he would have appreciated and endorsed.