“Legend” is not enough

With the news of David Bowie’s death, the word “legend” is being thrown about in the media and on the social web in exactly the manner you’d expect. It’s a word we associate with any artist once they reach a certain stature, and it confers an understanding of the impact and reach of their work; generally, we only use “legend” seriously when we’re talking about someone with a profound influence on popular culture.

In Bowie’s case, I’m wondering if that word comes even close to the reality of the man, his music and the staggering legacy that he leaves behind. In his career, Bowie was a supreme innovator, a continuous work-in-progress of his own invention. As an entertainer and performer, he was dynamic, adaptable and always pushing at the boundaries of the achievable.

Let’s consider that word, “legend”. Let’s think about the sheer size of the void that Bowie’s passing leaves in our cultural landscape. Who would fill it, if you had to nominate someone right now?

It’s a tough one, isn’t it?

I don’t think “legend” is enough; today, we’ve not lost a “pop star”, or an “entertainer”, we’ve lost a Mozart, a Beethoven, a truly iconic figure who will still be played and spoken of not just for years or decades to come, but for centuries. We are privileged to have been present during his lifetime.

“Legend”? Doesn’t even come close.

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