Bowie and Boundaries

Back in about 2000 I was charged with putting together a keynote presentation for a Newspaper In Education (the people charged with designing programs for newspapers to be used in classrooms as teaching and learning tools) industry conference. The attendees were from across the U.S., Canada and a few from other countries around the globe. My two co-presenters and I  agreed to address the biggest issue in our industry, which was the ways in which the newspaper industry was evolving and leaving our niche –the needs of schools– behind as if no one cared (Because they didn’t actually.). It was in the early days of a move to digital information and  many  of our colleagues  feared the advent of e-publishing would likely mean they’d become dinosaurs who could no longer find work. For many that did prove true but at that time we really just wanted to help the attendees stop thinking negatively about their professional future by embracing the evolution and finding ways to proactively take it on.

My co-presenters were from vastly different parts of the country and on a personal level we were quite different from each other as well. I was a middle-aged, married white woman with kids, living on the east coast in a major metro area. The second was a twenty-something single white woman living in the deep south. The third was a twenty something African  American gay man living in a small town in the Northwest. For months we were communicating about the best way to introduce our keynote and then finally we found it. We each chose a decade from the past and wore a costume appropriate to the bygone era we selected. We danced out on stage to the music of David Bowie, singing “Turn and face the strange Ch..Ch..Changes.”

Many in the audience reported it was the best presentation of the conference by far. Everyone could relate to Bowie.

That was the thing about David Bowie. He could never be categorized as any one thing. He represented many walks of life and refused to be labeled, long before refusing to be labeled was common. His music made it okay to be different. He blew up the boundaries between us. He made difference a strength and for that we should all thank him. RIP, Starman.


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6 Responses to “Bowie and Boundaries

  • Yes, such a big loss. I just learned that he was an animal rights activist also, something I didn’t know about him. RIP.

  • My first article for International Bipolar disorder was called “Cha Cha Cha Changes” about how our moods fluctuate. I’ve been waiting for days to have the time to read your blog. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up, Deborah. As for cover versions of great songs….I am a former major market alternative 90’s Disc Jockey and Music Director. Three weeks ago, I saw another cover of an iconic song in “The Big Short” It was this band of colorful miscreants and misfits singing and dancing to Nirvana’s “Lithium.” It was so funny

    • It’s funny how music permeates our psyche and our culture in more ways than are easily visible! I know how hard it is to keep up so I’m honored you found the time to read my post and to comment! Grateful!

  • Before Bowie was a rock and roller , he was on his way to becoming a Zen monk ( hence his obsession with Japan )…he lived his life by Zen principles …one being the principle of impermanence…as Dylan’s “the times they are a changin'” reflects this more in a social context , Bowie’s “Changes” gave a more personal view … revealing a depth of understanding that touched each of us personally and deeply…as an impressionable college freshman , it was a song that put things into perspective more than any other…I learned to play it on guitar and sang it quite often…as with many of Bowies songs , it became part of me as it has with so many others of our generation…I sing it to this day with the same passion…and have passed my love of his work on to our son and everyone who will listen…he will forever live in my heart…he has definitely CCCHANGED our world for the better…

    • As you so often are, Barry, right on all counts. We do pass along our passions to our kids, no question. Yesterday my daughter (6th grade teacher) texted me she played “Best of Bowie” throughout the day for her students. From this generation to the next to the next and so on…

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