The Eternal Starman

Words by Martha Jamail


In remembering David Bowie’s legacy, the word “inspirational” resonates throughout the many recent tributes to the late artist.  And rightly so: Bowie introduced his fans to the characters within themselves, told a walled-in city they could be heroes, and gave people a reason to look upwards in the midst a historically uncertain and troubled time.**

**Bowie’s music and performances inspire, but there is a quality in him that carries throughout his works, and is perhaps not as immortalized as his music or his performances.

I’m not particularly talented, certainly not in the way he was. I’ll never touch the hearts of so many. I’ll never have the courage to go on stage with an unstoppable vision and devil-may-care-if-the-critics-like-it attitude. Still, there is one small thing I hope I can share with this Rock n’ Roll legend.

Bowie will leave his mark on music forever–that goes without question. But that one facet of the star that left such an impression on me is his own capacity to be inspired. In 1973, Bowie called himself “a collector,”and I think I understand why he asserted this label when so many focused on him solely as a performer.  With Aladdin Sane, he reached into Kabuki theatre and mime, with Diamond Dogs he sought out dutch artist and comic writer, Guy Peellaert after being entranced by Rock Dreams, and he immortalized one fleeting, yet powerful reunion between two lovers divided by the Berlin Wall with Heroes. Bowie championed fellow artists Stevie Ray Vaughan and Iggy Pop among so many others, and found a thrill in sublimating himself to a backing roll to another’s vision. Bowie had an incredible gift for being inspired. And regarding Bowie’s care and remembrance he payed to those who inspired him–I’m making an assumption here–but, I’m sure it meant the world to them.

In his final video, Lazarus, I saw two characters. A raw, unembellished musician and time “waiting in the wings.” He seemed eager to put something on paper with a rush of inspiration coming over his sick body. My only wish for him as he left this world is that what he was so anxiously–frantically–trying to get on paper is there and part of his legacy.  I hope he left this world inspired, because that was the very heart of his life.

I tend to hear that I assign too much value to things. I certainly geek out–especially with music. I’m easily distracted, I could be more efficient, apparently I should really decide on a major. Then again, maybe simply cherishing something is a quality people appreciate, but often goes unmentioned.

I think it’s a quality we share on our small radio staff. After all, everything we do with Topper Radio is through a team of producers, hosts, and promoters.  Though I don’t say it often enough, it means a lot to me when a staff member programs my show, teaches me to use equipment, introduces me to an artist, or drops any and all responsibilities to drive out to Alamo Drafthouse to celebrate the life of the artist that means so much to us. It’s weird that I’m being so sentimental; especially with my first blog post. Still, I want to say I cherish the time I’ve had so far working with such an inspired staff; “you’re wonderful.”