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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Goodbye, Ziggy Stardust

This week it has been one blow after another as several beloved icons have passed away. David Bowie, Alan Rickman... It almost renders the mind incapable of thought to lose that much talents within days of each other. I'd been busy writing and editing and everything I was doing just stopped as I tried to take it all in.

I was about 7 years old when I snuck into the living room to watch The Midnight Special while my babysitter necked on the couch with her boyfriend. I heard a song I liked and sat, quietly, to watch. Then this "video" came on with this bizarre looking man, singing in a weird way to music I'd never heard put together like that before. I remember sitting there, thinking to myself, THIS is music, not that Bobby Sherman or Partridge Family stuff I hear on the radio. THIS is what I have been waiting to hear. The song was Space Oddity. that had been released years before but was just beginning to make its way into America. I was sold. I watched The Midnight Special every Friday night waiting to see more of this Ziggy Stardust/David Bowie person.

My mother could not find any of his records in Boise, Idaho, and wouldn't have bought them for me at any rate because he was "an AC/DC freak who shouldn't be on television".

When I was old enough, I began to babysit to earn my own money. One of the first things I bought with my own money when I was 11 years old was the Ziggy Stardust album. I have had Bowie on vinyl, 8-Track, cassette, CD and now digitally. I now have his entire catalog with the purchase of his last album, Blackstar. I had been putting it off when I found out about it because it was one of those "I'll get to it" things. Even upon his death, I was so busy with things that I put it off. Then I couldn't because PJTV decided it should air his Blackstar video.

I encourage any Bowie fan to watch the video. The song is beautiful in the typical Bowie way. However, the video is the most beautiful goodbye from any beloved entertainer to his fans. I wept and have watched it one other time, because it brings home to me how much I miss him. Yes, he was 69 and one would expect that he was not going to be writing new music forever, but in your head you keep thinking it will last forever. Sadly, it does not, and he's left us with something so indescribably beautiful as the Blackstar album. Well done, Mr. Bowie. Well done, indeed.

Then came the announcement of Alan Rickman's death. I'd been gutted by Bowie's passing so Rickman's death was such a blow. He was brilliant as Hans Gruber in Die Hard where most of us learned that wondrous voice. He was a wonderful villain. But the movie that taught me to love Alan Rickman was a small movie called "Truly, Madly, Deeply" that he did with Juliet Stevenson. He was so good in that movie and I just fell for him completely. I fell in love with him again years later with "Love Actually". In both movies he played flawed men who were loved desperately by their wives. One realized it, the other did not. And then Sense and Sensibility, the role of Colonel Brandon was a small role in a movie full of great actors, but his performance was like finding a brilliant diamond in a packet of raw diamonds. The Colonel's patient love of Maryann was a part of each scene he had with her. It was palpable. His acting was such that he made you feel a part of it.

I read each of the Harry Potter stories and after the movies came out I would read them thinking, "I wonder how Rickman will portray this scene if it's in the movie?" And it was a fun mental game until The Deathly Hollows. I was stunned by Snape's death in the book. The movie portrayal ripped me apart. I couldn't figure out why it affected me so, until my oldest son pointed out that in the whole of the story, Snape was the only true hero in the whole of it and Rickman's portrayal nailed it perfectly.
He brought something to each of his roles. He was such a good actor that you just bought into every scene he did. I never watched a movie he was in and thought, "Oh look, Hans Gruber is being a nice guy in this movie."  He was so talented he brought each character he played to life and you never thought of the other characters he had played.

Both Bowie's and Rickman's death will leave a hole in my soul that nothing will fill. That is the way it should people who appreciate and admire.  It wasn't that I was a fan. I didn't have posters or the teeny-bopper admiration thing going on with them. No, my admiration was in each album and movie ticket I bought. Every time I decided to spend my money on a new version of their work, that was my admiration, my "fandom". They were never on any list of "Top Ten Favorites" because I don't think most people understood them as they should have been, each entertainer to the role they played at that time. In the firmament of ours, they were not necessarily the brightest stars, but they were the most beautiful to sit and watch... and enjoy the performance.

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