The Life and Death of a Muse.

A Fans Tribute to David Bowie

Photo Credit: Chris Duffy 

By Fan and Contributor H. Reavis

What do you do when your muse dies? It’s not about falling out of inspiration or no longer being intrigued; it is not concerning the changing of opinion or a difference in values. This is the literal death, the forever sleep.

Some where around age ten two of my passions collided: my aptitude for creative writing and my love affair with David Bowie. I had always been something of an old soul- I read Bronte and Alcott in the my early preteen years- and my writing reflected those strong willed women and dark past men, who, despite all the odds, love prevailed for. Suddenly my Rochesters were striking with two toned pupils and my heroins were befriending fairies. My coming of age stories were morphed into aliens attempting to understand homo sapiens.

I fell hard. I was swallowed. Consumed.

Let it be understood that this young girl had been raised quite conservatively. My main exposure to the opposite sex, outside of reading, were the men on the television show The Walton’s and The Fonz on Happy Days. This makeup wearing, outlandishly dressed man who at one moment was a dancing King of the Goblins and the next a crooner invoking Frank Sinatra, was indeed all alien and new to me.

More than that though my soul was awakened to the art of atmosphere, to moods, and emotions vicariously lived through someone else’s words. His words. His feelings. When I learned about his “cut up” method of lyric writing, I thought I was being given insight into his subconscious. When I read the words to “Teenage Wildlife” I pondered over the implications that this was advice given to his son. The entire Black Tie White Noise album was an invitation to join in his nuptials to wife Iman, as well as feel the tension in Los Angeles during the early 90s. I was the rebel who tore her dress. I was also the girl with the mousy hair.

And in my devotion, I allowed him to become my muse. A sacred relationship between writer and inspiration, a muse tells a story with every tilt of the chin and gesture of the hand. The writer must observe, allowing for facts and assumptions, and with these tidbits create a new story. David, however unintentional, however unaware, had entered into a intimate communion of sorts with me. To put it in the most romanticized way possible, I was in love with him both sexually, intellectually, and metaphorically. It was an imagined relationship on a grand scale.

I wrote Labyrinth fanfiction before the phrase had really been coined. I rewrote Walter Tevis’ The Man Who Fell to Earth trying to understand the relationship between Newton and Betty Jo. I embarked upon a mock biography pondering how both of our lives would be had we interacted. I self-published a collection of short stories, The Trouble With Familiar, each short bearing the name of one of his songs. I threw myself into the Reality street team, even starting a fansite where my speciality was tracking down and interviewing tribute acts and Bowie impersonators.

With other fans, a collective family, we rejoiced with birth of his daughter, weathered a heart attack, mourned when he lost his long time friend Lou Reed, and welcomed him once more into our arms when The Next Day appeared. Our beloved David was back. My muse was alive, mature and reflective and ready for more scrutiny. We belted out the lyrics, “Hold my hand and I’ll take you there” with a conviction that we were on the road to more years of shared creativity.

When he announced Black Star I felt like we were on our second honeymoon. Here was a deep, provocative gift. I remember sitting at my computer, my six year old boy at my shoulder, and we were engrossed in the video for “Lazarus.” It was a dark Narnia; a moan and a revel all at once; a reflective yet self effacing master piece. His age and vulnerability laid bear. My muse had grown old, but he wasn’t tired.

Or so I had thought.

Following that January, the day of his passing, I completely stepped away from writing for a year. My muse had died. My focus had blurred. My drive had stalled. Despite every word penned, every idea formulated, he had never known my dedication to him. Had it all been in vain? After all vanity of vanities, cries the preacher. I was afraid of that very sentiment.

Music had allowed for me to tap into parts of myself and the human condition that otherwise would never have been discovered. Through another’s creativity I was given vision and fuel for my own endeavors. Had my craft been for him? Or because of him? Did I cease to be writer, artist, fan because he was gone? Or were these truths to be held more dear in honor of him?

My muse is dead. 

These past two years I struggled to accept this reality, this fact. I penned a review of David Brighton’s Bowie tribute, Space Oddity, claiming to be past the dirge. I had gone and sung my heart out in a collective choir- we were all heroes ready to face the future with only his memory. Yet still my creative endeavor of a novel, a true original piece, was untouched.

On the day of what would have been his seventyfirst birthday I tuned in to watch pianist and long time Bowie friend, Mike Garson and Gerry Leonard have a live chat via FaceBook. Garson treated all of us viewers to some lovely piano work. Then the talking came. There was a common thread to the way they discussed David: he never wanted you to play his way; he always wanted you to play your own way. He would have a vision of what he wanted, but he chose his varied cast of players because he wanted the individual style of each member. 

All this time I had been taking inspiration from him, only to learn that in his true character, he wanted individuals, me, to find inspiration within ourselves. Then and only then can we share our talent with the world.

I fell in love with him all over again.  

We Can Be Heroes... for more than one day...