When I got out of the shower this morning, my girlfriend told me that David Bowie had died. At firstI was convinced she was lying but as I looked in to her eyes, lit up by the warming glow of social media, I realised that what she was saying was true. Ziggy, the thin white duke, David Jones was no longer with us. I spent the next few hours going through the motions of a normal Monday morning in a daze, tears never far from my eyes and sense of despondency shrouding my every thought. I must be clear, at this point, that although I have always had the greatest respect for David Bowie and enjoyed every one of his songs that I heard, I would not by any stretch class myself as a Bowie super-fan. So why did the passing of this modern day hero hit me so hard?
After some thinking and a little light soul searching, I realised that it is because of what Bowie doesn't leave behind that I am so utterly gutted by his death. Put simply, there is no worthy successor to the throne. What Bowie was so utterly perfect at was reinventing himself, we all get that, but what reinventing himself meant was reinventing music and, by extension, reinventing society. The creation of Ziggy Stardust, the androgyny, the hunger for change, the insatiable appetite for the new and original - all of this impacted upon subsets of society that soon grew to became more mainstream and accepted long after he had moved on in a new direction. Every accolade that could be thrown at Bowie's feet was deserved and earned but this greatness has left us with a void and I'm not sure who can even come close to fill it.
We're looking for an innovator, a creator, someone who's not only afraid to push boundaries but is actively seeking to do so and a person so utterly unaffected by the lure of fame that the creative process is pure and unmarred. Now, I spend a lot of time listening to and reading about music, musicians and creators but I am struggling to come up with a single name who fits that bill. People like Bjork or PJ Harvey are knocking around the fringes, Kanye West is a popular choice with many but for me he's just going through the motions and borrowing from his predecessors more than creating from new. Maybe there's someone waiting in the wings, a voice as yet unheard.
So who will lead us in to a new era of musical endeavour? It has never been easier to create and release music to a worldwide audience - from suburban English bedrooms to the clubs of Rio in the click of a button - but all this seems to have achieved is the flooding of the soundwaves with the mediocre, the half finished or the not fully explored. The quest for 'success' or the fringe benefits of fame and fortune have taken over from the more worthwhile pursuit of creating something truly worthy of being called art. All of this over exposure and fame focused society doesn't leave any room for patience or the slow blooming creative process which is so often vital to creating something worthwhile.
I'm not saying I have all the answers, or any answers for that matter, but that's kind of the point; who does have the answers? More importantly, who knows what the questions are that we need answered? The music world is hurting tonight and we're in mourning but at some point in the coming weeks and months people will start to focus on the void left behind and there's an opportunity for all you musicians out there. Sure, they are huge boots to fill and I'm not asking any of you to fill them on your own but whenever next you're sitting down at the piano, with the guitar, or with an blank piece of paper just think this: what would Bowie have done? When the song is perfect, play it backwards and see if that's better. When the lyrics make total sense, change the order and see if that hits harder. And when everyone loves you just as you are then that's the time to change.