Blackstar Shine On

I am actually a bit overwhelmed by the outpouring of tributes to David Bowie. I was listening to Blackstar on Sunday, loving it, intrigued by it, critiquing it. I listened to it with a whole different heartset yesterday. As I told my students, Bowie managed to merge the avant-garde and pop like no one else. Yes, I loved his music. But what’s most intriguing to me is how influential he was on the women whose music subsequently has captivated me. For Alice Bag, Cherie Currie, Kari Krome, etc., he was THE inspiration to rebel rebel, to turn and face the strange changes.

On Sunday, as this pale style icon kept singing to me in my car, “I’m a black star, I’m not a pop star,” I pondered the Thin White Duke’s relationship to appropriation: his obsession with black music, feminine manners, and gay culture. Is it theft, as I think many of my less tolerant students would think? Or is it, as Eric Lott coined it, love and theft? I wondered what Greg Tate would think. And thanks to this amazing, smart, loving remembrance, I now know.

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