What David Bowie Taught Me About Art, Death and Letting Go

An essay about the endurance of art and nature beyond human mortality, and the particular comfort I took from David Bowie's song “Space Oddity” during my father’s long decline and death.

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“Space Oddity was released in 1969, the year I was born and the year of the first moon landing. At the time, audiences thought the song was inspired by Apollo 11 since it came out the same week. Others have theorized that the troubled character of Major Tom was an avatar for a seriously drug-addicted Bowie, whose losing contact with Ground Control and floating into outer space was a metaphor for an overdose.

For me it took on another meaning. I thought about my dad, lying in his hospital bed, waiting to be liberated from a body that was failing him. Although he never said it to me, I can’t imagine he thought of his wrecked, aging body as anything other than a prison.”