Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Ashes to Ashes

Last week was an unusual week.

Along with the rest of the Pillars team, I was busy getting The White March - Part 2 ready for release next month. On Monday, I learned we'd been nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Outstanding Achievement in Videogame Writing, which came as an honor and a delight.

I also learned that David Bowie had passed away.

I'd never previously understood grief at the passing of a celebrity. But I grew up listening to Bowie's music--in fact, he was one of the first musicians I came to recognize as a kid. I remember listening to Changesbowie on family road trips, hearing the tale behind "Space Oddity" and not understanding how "Ashes to Ashes" was supposed to be a follow-up (or even a song by the same person), and thinking it just hilarious to sing along to "John, I'm Only Dancing" with my sisters (only now do I realize that our parents' laughter must have been equal parts discomfort and amusement).

Our cousin introduced my sisters and me to Labyrinth, a movie I loved no less for the time an older relative scolded us for watching it, saying, "God didn't make people that way." Come to think of it, I probably liked it even more after that.

When I got old enough to think it over, I decided that I really liked David Bowie's music. I borrowed my dad's albums and got some of my own. Each one was so different from the others and so marvelous in its own way. In high school, I developed this bizarrely specific habit of playing Diablo II while listening to Dad's vinyl of Scary Monsters (that or Kate Bush's Never for Ever, but almost always one of those two). My college roommate and I bonded over Bowie our freshman year--I was walking to the laundry room with my Discman, and she asked what I was listening to.

That said, it feels strange to feel sadness at the passing of someone I never met, and stranger still to write about it.

But one of the things that's been most touching is the notion that Bowie created his last album as a parting gift for fans. It's a lovely thought and a poignant reminder of the highest purpose of art--to share something beautiful and personal with others.

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