Remembering David Bowie, Cat Guy Extraordinaire
When I first read the news of David Bowie’s death, my first thought was of sadness for the Goblin King. I’m a child of the 80s. The whole space alien stuff was just a bit before my time, though as the tributes came pouring in, I realized just how widespread his musical influence truly is. Today, however, I want to honor him for recognizing a different, oft-forgotten segment of the population.
In 1982 he penned the now infamous song “Cat People,” for a movie of the same name. It’s weird. It’s intense. I’m not entirely sure what it’s about. In short, it’s perfect for its subject matter.
Of course, David Bowie is the perfect representative for cat people everywhere—you can’t picture him fly fishing with a Labrador by his side, can you? He wasn’t a people pleaser—while he certainly made people very happy with his work, he wasn’t doing it for them; he simply had to express who he was.
Sometimes the world sighed in amazement, and other times in complete befuddlement. He was fine with it either way.
When I first saw Labyrinth in 1986, I couldn’t figure out what I was supposed to think of the tall guy running around with the anemone hair and tights, alternating between yelling at Muppets and turning into an owl. In retrospect, it’s a brilliantly weird performance.
This is why we need cat people in the world. I can’t see Blake Shelton or some other archetypal dog person agreeing to such a performance.
Watching him sing “Peace on Earth” with a slightly bewildered-looking Bing Crosby is one of the highlights of my holiday season. Legend has it that Bowie walked into the studio the morning of the taping and, when handed “The Little Drummer Boy” to sing, did what all good cats do: he knocked it off the table with a “nope, hate it, not doing it.” The producers frantically wrote a new song and the duet you see was the result of less than an hour’s rehearsal with two musical legends.
Cat people know what they want, and, clearly, they’re usually right.
This week the world mourns the loss of a great musician, but he was so much more than that. He was a brilliant artist, an inspiration to all the creative types fighting to be who they want to be and not what they thought the world expected of them, and by all accounts a genuinely kind and gracious person.
RIP, original Cat Guy. Heaven just got a little weirder and a whole lot cooler.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang
Image: Keith Kissel / Flickr