LET'S face it. 2016 has been a horror year.
We should've seen the signs as early as January.
January 10 to be precise.
On that day, we lost someone incredibly unique: David Bowie.
A man who transcended boundaries and whose appeal was inter-generational.
Bowie left with the same style and grace he'd displayed for decades, choosing not to make his health battles and problems public. Instead, he left us with Blackstar, his final album, which has remained one of the year's best reviewed works.
How fitting, it seemed, that Blackstar - an album in which Bowie looks death squarely in the face - was his final swan song. As if the master had planned the farewell in advance.
But accounts are now beginning to surface which suggest Bowie was already planning on yet more material after Blackstar. It's a tantalizing idea.
As has become custom, we realised what a remarkable, mercurial talent he was only once he was gone. Blackstar went to number one on its posthumous release. Much of Bowie's back catalogue filled out the world's albums and singles charts as we scrambled to preserve our memories of him and his music. And, his transcendental approach to culture: blurring the lines of music, fashion and art as he did for so long, have stretched his legacy into the art world.
Since his departure, the Victoria and Albert museum in London has announced that their Bowie exhibition has become their most ever visited show. Bowie's personal art collection: as progressive and ahead of the times as the man himself - has had collectors in a frenzy.
And yet, he'll be remembered for being such a phenomenal pioneer in popular culture. With a voice that was distinctive and incredibly powerful. Get your fill of it over at NME which have some great isolated vocals that attest to how amazing that voice was lest we forget.
It has been a few weeks now since David Bowie's passing, and I have to say that I'm still caught up in my own form of mourning of him.
I'm celebrating the fact that we got to share the planet with him by listening to his songs all over again, and at the same time, grieving the fact that there will never be anyone like him again.
In many ways, David Bowie was my ultimate, favourite artist. The consummate mix of artistry and pop sensibility.
I remember when I was younger, people used to ask me who my favourite singers or musicians were. I could always fall back on Madonna, because I think culturally, she has excelled at every level, but she wasn't ever really a musician. I admire her musical talent, but I would never put her in the same league as Bowie on that level.
I think a lot of gay/bi men have issues identifying with male artists. It's a theme I touch on throughout my novel, and one that I have experienced myself.
I can rattle off a million names of female artists who I've really, really loved, but really, when it comes to male musical acts there are few who have touched me as deeply as the female acts. Even by the nineties, Bowie was still my male touchstone when I fumbled for an answer. Even back then, there was still no equal to his greatness.
His influence is writ large all over my novel, but thankfully I wrote it at a time when we still had the security of a living, breathing Bowie.
The Vinyl Tiger is an androgynous, pop/performance artist who arrives years after Bowie has already started to craft his magic, but the Vinyl Tiger hits his mark in a new age and a new era.
Throughout the book, Alekzandr, the main character, experiences loss, and reflects on the fact that he manages to outlive many artists who he deemed himself inferior to.
And re-reading a passage about grief today that I wrote, I felt that it would just be timely to point it out, because grief comes in all kinds of forms. Sometimes its everything, you know. Other times you can deal with it.
Clearly, the following paragraph is not in relation to Bowie, but rather, the very human feeling that supposedly makes us different to everyone else.
Perhaps you'll agree with the sentiment.
Grief is an all-encompassing thing. It ticks away under the surface and from its veiled position it attempts to derail anything and everything that stands before it. Grief is the only trace of the things that will forever be denied to us. The future moments, possibilities and promises that we are forced to accept will never eventuate. And the past glories from our own histories that we always thought we, at some point, would be able to relive, regardless of where circumstances may have led us in the meantime.
Vinyl Tiger is available at a range of online stockists (paperback).
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Devastating news today.
We've all just learned that David Bowie has tragically passed away after an eighteen month long battle with cancer.
It's a heartbreaking piece of news that seems to have come out of nowhere. Perhaps because despite all his decades of envelope pushing and transgression, Bowie was an elegant gentleman who never really courted celebrity or coverage.
For so long, he seemed to be so busy inhabiting the many alter egos and brilliant music he created, that he seemed less a man and more a creative force who projected so many larger than life entities into our world.
So it has come as a surprise - a heartbreaking newsflash as rigid as that old lightning bolt that our evergreen Thin White Duke, our Ziggy Stardust is no longer with us.
How very sad that we (and of course his family and friends) have lost one of the greatest artist/entertainers the world has ever seen.
There are so many things to love and admire about Bowie.
He was a pioneer; bold, creative and the one person who designed the blueprint for all the non conventional artists that followed. After all, Bowie spent more of his life setting and ignoring trends than he did chasing them and yet managed to maintain his influence longer than most.
I'm an eighties boy in nearly every sense of the word, but the 80s and the music world as we know it today wouldn't have been the same without the presence of Bowie.
What a ground breaker! A remarkable singer/songwriter, a performer who blurred every line that was possible even in an era when artists didn't have access to mass media, nor instant media as they do now.
In my novel Vinyl Tiger, there are numerous references made to him or inspired by him because I truly believe that the most engaging, challenging pop artists from the eighties onwards, like the main character in Vinyl Tiger, owe a huge debt to him.
The main character in my novel is someone who engages in reinvention and androgyny, but what separated Bowie from most of the artists that followed him was that those transformations were genuine and inspired. They were part and parcel of his artistic process and not about pre-calculated moments but more about bridging the gaps between traditional musicianship and conceptual/performance art.
Space Oddity is where it began, back in 1969. And the journey he took along the way - always seemed to be about following his integrity and his artistry even if it didn't always connect with audiences or bled into other artistic mediums.
He maintained that commitment right through to Black Star, his last (and recently released album) including for Lazarus - the video and song whose symbolism will be seen as Bowie's last testament to an artistic life of conviction.
May he Rest in Peace.
VERY happy to be back in my stomping ground of Melbourne.
Just love the energy of the city and the schizophrenic nature of the place over the New Year Period.
In the city's central business district, there''s a great building known as the Nicholas building. It's full of artist studios, speciality and bespoke stores, and wandering around it over these last few days spotted these remarkable pins!
When I work out who actually made them, you'll be the first to know.
Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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