Leading up to his death, Iman celebrates Bowie and shares her thoughts in posts
In the days since word hit of David Bowie's death, the reactions seem as dynamic and diffuse as the man himself. Many write of particular personas, songs and shows, but what emanates from these confessions is wonder — about what he imparted and how it endures.
His aura of invincibility, especially in his art, went unspoken for so long that the news was a jolt. Who was ever surprised about what he tried? Even if we did not understand it at first, there was power and persuasiveness to it that would seep inside eventually.
Perhaps we did not understand his greatest private collaboration, though, until his wife Iman tweeted in the days leading up to her husband's death. In one she reminds us of the joy of living in the moment, and underneath that, the sorrow when we know those experiences will be no more. She also acknowledges the pain of struggle and the belief in a higher power. They are both poignant but private postings.
The couple, who wed in 1992, met at a dinner party, according to a CNN story. She explained to Express in 2011 how she overcame her reluctance to get involved with a rocker, "He wooed me." A rebel and a gentleman, he clearly was a potent private personality too.
In keeping with the public-private life separation, few knew Bowie had cancer, according to an Associated Press story. On his birthday, Jan. 8, he delivered a present, what we presume is his last record, "Blackstar." NPR writes that his illness did not dampen Bowie's musical exploration. And really, what else would we expect from him?
So as the days go by and his illuminating showmanship pops up in all the familiar spots online and in print, Bowie's words will be used to describe his effect. Yes, he changed music, but really his reach overflowed into sexuality and gender, pop culture, art, music, theater, acting, fashion/hairstyles and technology — just about every facet of our lives.
Now consider what he told the L.A. Times' then pop music critic Robert Hilburn in 1987:
“For me, rock was always about narrative or putting forward little stories and ideas, however strange or off the wall they might be. ... I guess it's flattering that everyone believed I was those characters, but it also is dehumanizing. I meet people all the time and I can see the mistrust in their eyes, like calculation is my middle name.”
What did Hilburn have to say about the life and art of Bowie?
“He was brilliant in every facet of the genre: on stage (ah, the Ziggy Stardust tour), on record (from ‘Hunky Dory' and ‘Ziggy' to ‘Low' and ‘Scary Monsters')," Hilburn told the Times on Jan. 11, 2016. “Ultimately,” Hilburn said, “for me it's ‘Heroes.' In his most inspiring moments, he made us all feel like we could be heroes. And isn't that what rock 'n' roll is all about?”