The news of the death of David Bowie was profoundly shocking to me, and it's taken me a moment to collect my thoughts why.
Bowie was an artist who was always able to stay relevant without becoming a parody -- unlike, say, Madonna. It was the endless variety of music he could produce without losing the underlying thread of his talent by imitating a style. He lived that style, worked that style, mined it and made it his own.
From his early glam-rock days to his more recent "rock crooner" era, he never let you lose sight of the fact that it was David Bowie, no matter what name -- Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Thin White Duke -- he cloaked himself in.
If anyone had found a veritable fountain of youth, Bowie had. The endless reinvention and reincorporation of music made him a walking performing encyclopedia of the past forty years.
And he never seemed to age physically. Sure, there were lines and wrinkles, the occasional wattle when he lost weight (possibly from the cancer that took him), gray hair so neatly combed and styled that you were sure he added the gray as a final touch, but you never sensed any less energy from him.
You look at a Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney, Elton John or Peter Gabriel, and you see how time wounds us, saps us of strength and vitality, despite our best efforts at covering that up.
But Bowie never seemed to drain, never seemed sapped. He seemed endlessly energetic.
Many years ago, he foresaw this day as Ziggy Stardust, in "My Death":
Of all the people I imagine who might beat death back, it was the Man Who Fell To Earth. Godspeed, David. You've brought us all joy.My death waits like a beggar blindwho sees the world through an unlit mindthrow him a dimefor the passing time...My death waits there between your thighsyour cool fingers will close my eyeslet's think of that and the passing timeMy death waits to allow my friendsa few good times before it endsso let's drink to that and the passing timeBut what ever lies behind the door,there is nothing much to doangel or devil I don't carefor in front of that door... there is you