Jason Keil

Jason Keil is a writer whose work has been published in the Phoenix New Times, AZCentral.com, Phoenix Magazine, and OnMilwaukee.com. He also co-hosts the podcast What The Fork.

Life At Maximum Volume

My introduction to David Bowie came when he wore tights that hugged all the right places.

He was surrounded by furry creatures and singing about magic dances. 

As many of you have guessed, I was watching Labyrinth. I had no idea what Bowie had done before this moment. I had no premonition of how he would influence my life afterwards. All I knew on this Saturday morning viewing of Jim Henson's masterpiece was that I was watching someone with an extraordinary amount of bravado.

Years later, I heard Bowie's remix of "Fame" on the Pretty Woman soundtrack. I purchased the 1990 compilation ChangesBowie soon after. I would fall asleep listening to tales of Major Tom, alien guitarists, and diamond dogs. I knew "Space Oddity" so well I made a music video to the single with scenes from Apollo 13. It won a student film award. 

I became aware of important artists and influences through Bowie: T-Rex, Luther Vandross, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Nicolas Roeg, Brian Eno, Lou Reed, Roxy Music, Moby, Velvet Underground, Duran Duran, David Lynch, Klaus Nomi. 

With no disrespect to my father, Bowie was a parental figure of sorts. He introduced me to art and music I wouldn't have found on my own, gave his approval to the music I loved (Nine Inch Nails, Arcade Fire), and showed me what it was like to be cool. His music gave me comfort. I remember listening to Seu Jorge singing his songs in Portuguese on The Life Aquatic soundtrack after my mom passed away. Even in a foreign tongue, Bowie helped the pain go away somehow.

This is why when I woke up the morning of his death, I felt like I had lost a member of my family. Sure, there's the cliche that he will live forever in his music, but part of who makes me who I am died on January 11, 2016.

I know I'm not alone. His talent was uniting the rebels, freaks, and strangers. Together we mourn his passing.