In Memoriam: Remembering David Bowie

Above: AmongMen's E. Spencer Kyte remembers David Bowie
Above: AmongMen's E. Spencer Kyte remembers David Bowie

Tween me was an idiot. Now, I’m old enough to have been a tween before “tween” was actually a word people used and understood, but that doesn’t change the fact that back in those days, I was completely closed of to new things. Maybe that’s not crazy because how many 10- to 14-year-olds do you know that are open to checking out new music and want to get said musical advice from a grown up because what the hell do grown ups know about cool music?

Turns out, one of my teachers knew a great deal and was trying to broaden my horizons, but know-it-all Grade 6 me wasn’t having it.

In 1989, my musical favourites included hair-metal acts like Poison and Warrant, everything on Rap Traxx II, New Kids on the Block (yeah, I said it) and the super-popular songs that dominated radio at the time. Basically, I really liked bubble gum and had zero interest in things like depth and message and wasn’t paying attention to things like musicianship and artists that had some legit credentials and long-term viability.

So when my teacher, Ms. Benoit, who drove a 1980 metallic bronze Camaro with a glittery, golden racing stripe down each side and was very outside the box as an educator, tried to hip our class to David Bowie, it was like she was on stage at The Shelter and froze with the mic.

At the time, my only knowledge of Bowie was confined to his “Dancing in the Street” duo with Mick Jagger and “Let’s Dance” and that wasn’t enough of a framework for me to take Ms. Benoit’s advice and do a deep dive on Bowie. He was weird and wasn’t making music for kids like me the way people like Bobby Brown or Paula Abdul were. Yes, I know this sounds ridiculous now; I’ve come to accept it.

Fast-forward six or seven years and I smartened all the way up. It started a couple years later when Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” being featured in Wayne’s World prompted a re-release of their Greatest Hits album, where I heard “Under Pressure” and my mind exploded.

It was brilliant and I wanted more.

I went back and listened to “Let’s Dance,” recognized its awesomeness and kept going deeper, discovering not only that Ms. Benoit was right all along and was trying to do us all a solid by introducing us to this brilliant artist, but that Bowie was a dude that had an indelible impact on the music business and pulling off the alter-ego, re-invention thing well in advance of Madonna and long before Beyonce was born.

In hindsight, Bowie should have been my guy all along because he feels like the patron saint of the artistically inclined – a guy that was a sublime musician, surprisingly good actor, broke rules and barriers and kept it 100 long before “Keeping It 100” was a thing. He never fit into a box and never remained static and that is inspiring, liberating and motivating, and should be even if you’re not a fan or an artistic type.

Like many right now, I’m rocking a Bowie playlist and remembering an artist that I should have fallen in love with earlier, but thankfully came around to later in life.

Rest in Peace.

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E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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