It can be sad when a famous rock star passes away. With luxurious wealth, temptations and adoring audiences, they can sometimes live life to excesses that ordinary people do not. The music they create, on the other hand, can be an opportunity to traverse a warm and affectionate passage back to another time in our lives.
When a renowned musician died recently, my 15-year-old daughter Emily asked me what he was like.
As a parent, I am always looking for opportunities to talk more with my daughters, as adulthood beckons them and these chances can become less and less. I enjoyed answering this request as thoughtfully as possible.
I did not know this artist well during my prime music-consuming years. He had lots of habits that on the surface were foreign, even perhaps outlandish, to me and my straight-laced college life in northern Louisiana. At that time, my college town of Ruston did not even allow alcohol within city limits. Now, that seems almost alien to today’s perspective.
As my daughter and I watched several music videos of this artist and others on YouTube, we both were transported to the early ’80s of my college days. She could picture my friends and me congregating in the Louisiana Tech Student Union, watching music videos on MTV on the giant TV screen. Then, MTV was the network devoted almost entirely to the simple entertainment of the new and burgeoning media of music videos. Many of my hours were spent talking and eating with friends, with this lively social anchor bobbing lightly below the waves of our fast-moving collegiate life.
My daughter and I both laughed at the eccentric costumes, neon colored big hair and bright lights. Without the ever-present flow of info from the Internet, musicians seemed a little bit more magical.
She asked why performances were so over-the-top, with their existential boundaries that seemed to be never ending. I regaled her with stories about the parties at my fraternity house, getting another always welcome opportunity to reinforce how a young man should treat a young lady and how to negotiate these events.
As both of us are analytical, I discussed with her the difficulty of the economics of a TV channel that did nothing but play music videos.
She did get to see the vibrancy of a long-ago portion of my college life through the vivid videos. I looked into her eyes and saw her wonder at my college days, and I could feel the nearness of her approaching time in college.
Thanks David Bowie for this warm, loving and humorous time I spent with my daughter looking back at a very enjoyable part of an earlier time in my life. Though my daughter’s time will also be special, it likely will not have someone in it as interesting as you.
— Taylor lives in Baton Rouge
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