Writers on David Bowie, the Power of Music, and Finding the Courage to Be Themselves

Image by Thierry Ehrmann  (CC BY 2.0)

This week, we say goodbye to music legend David Bowie, who passed away from cancer at the age of 69 on January 10. From homages to quick stories, writers are sharing personal experiences of being empowered by his music — especially during their formative years — and how he encouraged them to come into their own and be themselves. Here’s a sampling of posts that celebrate the man who, for so many years, produced music that moved and defined us.


At Tales from the Motherland, Dawn Quyle Landau remembers being scared but intrigued by David Bowie in his early years, and how his music introduced her to a bigger world beyond what she’d known.

David Bowie helped me imagine space in a shocking new way: you could drift away and be lost, but the music would be stellar. His bold hair, his make-up, his unbelievable clothes were part of his artistry, but they opened a new world to this sheltered girl, living in a sheltered New England town. David Bowie introduced me to the exquisite tapestry that life is — he revealed all of the differences that the world I lived in tried so hard to hide.

“The Bold Tapestry of David Bowie”


At Sam’s Online Journal, Sam writes about the importance of music in his life, and how Bowie has been a major influence over the past 20 years.

I met David Bowie in late 1995, at a time when I was a young adult trying to find my way in the world. That’s when many people met him, maybe not in 1995, but perhaps in 1972, or 1983, or 2002, or whenever, but they needed guidance just like I did. And David Bowie was there for me, for them, for US, just like he always had been, just like I knew he always would be.

“What a Fantastic Death Abyss”


Charlotte Sparacino at Observe pens a letter to Bowie and recalls the evening she crossed paths with him on an empty street in New York City’s NoHo.

We had walked in pace with each other for a few blocks, and the entire time I had no desire to barrage you with the plethora of questions that I had compiled while listening to your work. Instead I found comfort in the eye contact that we made, and felt as if we were nearly the same.

I would never compare my capabilities to yours, but I felt in that moment the ability to execute my curiosities in a way that would affect the world.

I bet not one soul will believe me, but it’s true.

“A Letter to David Bowie, More Than Music”


Watercolor painting by Michele Witchipoo, Witches Brew Press, 2013.
Watercolor painting by Michele Witchipoo, Witches Brew Press, 2013.

At pop culture site Biff Bam Pop, five contributors share their memories of his live performances and their favorite tracks. Here’s a snippet from Robin Renee:

David Bowie turned my teenage isolation into an inspired knowing that I could be all I wanted to be in life — creative, queer, bold, outside the box in any and all ways possible. As an artist and as a being, he was, and always will be, my most profound influence.

Biff Bam Pop Remembers David Bowie”


Tara Joshi, a music blogger at Don’t Watch Me Dancing, recalls repeatedly watching Labyrinth as a child, and how he made an impact on her before she was 10 years old:

I sometimes wonder if the Labyrinth’s nonchalant Goblin King was partly responsible for some kind of sexual awakening in me, but maybe that’s a discussion for another time . . .

“A Love Letter to David Bowie”


At Independent Ethos, Hans Morgenstern travels back to 1987, as a scared ninth grader in Ms. Stinson’s intimidating classroom, and recalls his presentation on Bowie, which empowered him:

The ease I felt after playing the opening part of my cassette of Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture dissolved any stage fright. My curiosity of what Bowie did during that fateful 1973 concert where he appeared as an alter ego in bright orange hair, the brashness of his backing band, The Spiders From Mars, flowed out as I schooled my classmates on Bowie.

“How David Bowie kicked off my writing career”


Want to read more? Explore other posts in the David Bowie tag page in the Reader.

January 11, 2016Music, Popular Culture,