In Memory of a Voice I Have No Memory Of

For the most part I am unaffected by the death of celebrities. Maybe it is because I am selfish. After all, if they are not currently producing new work, then I have no idea (nor care) what is happening in their life, so why should their death affect me? Maybe it is because I am callous about death in general. Even when my friends and family members have died, I have not been very emotionally affected. Death just doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me.

I am not saying anything against those who grieve for people who are close to them or for celebrities. We all process life and death differently and, while I may not understand it, I accept the grief that other people feel.

Because of my aloofness towards celebrities and death in general, I was very surprised by the twinge of feeling that I got this morning when I read the David Bowie had died. Let me preface this by saying that I was never a diehard Bowie fan. I liked his music. I appreciated it. But I was never obsessed with it the way I have gotten obsessed with other people’s music. I never had a Bowie phase. I had a huge crush on a man that LOOKED like Bowie and I had relationships with men and women who were borderline obsessed with him, but I never crossed over. So why would I feel such a twinge of– not sadness but– something at the news of his death?

Bowies voice- the depth of it, the character of it, the strength of it- is the soundtrack of life. I am not even talking about his incredible breadth of music at the moment. I am talking about one song- any song of his. I am talking about the way he delivers a single line. It feels applicable to an entire life. The way he inhales- holds a note- approaches- it feels like those moments as a teenager when you are infinite and invincible.  The passion with which he attacks some phrases reminds me of being in my early twenties- the completely purposeful lack of control on a Friday night that leads into so many adventures. The deep, gravelly sound is pretty much my definition of sensual touch and sexuality- of exploration and connection. The tenderness and ease with which some phrases flow feel exactly the way it feels now that I am a parent, sometimes on autopilot and always having to be carried along on this adventure- gaining strength for the next phrase of life. Then, the transitions between speech and song hold a certain wisdom that I hope will be exactly how the end of my life feels.

Pick any of his songs. Any of them. And the range of his voice will give you a lifetime.

So, no it wasn’t sadness I felt when I heard the news. It was some sort of confirmation in every aspect of spirituality I have explored. Because if there is anyone who is actually infinite- who will break apart and explode into this universe and exist forever, it has to be the owner of that voice.


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