Schuppel’s Scoop: Dear David Bowie


Claire Schuppel/Getty Images

Arts and Life Editor, Claire Schuppel, writes about her connection with David Bowie.

Claire Schuppel, Arts & Life Editor

I can accredit my upbringing to three people in my life: my mother, my father and David Bowie. I consider myself a Bowie fan first and a human second, as every single person I have met knows. I’ve hesitated to write about this since I heard I got a weekly column, but with the release of “Moonage Daydream,” I knew it was the right time. Please enjoy a rough timeline/overview of my love for the Starman.


My parents and I sit in the local AMC, waiting for the afternoon showing of “Bandslam” to begin. Little did I know that my life would be changed at that moment for many reasons. I was introduced to bands I love like Wilco, Bread and the Velvet Underground and my dad and I found what we consider to be “our movie,” but most importantly I had my formal introduction to the man himself.

The movie follows a teenage boy named Will who struggles to fit in at his high school, and he expresses those problems to Bowie’s fan email address. Beginning each email with “Dear David Bowie,” the audience learns about his deep feelings and thoughts through these messages.

“Rebel Rebel” was the first song of Bowie’s that I consciously heard, and it was thanks to “Bandslam.” At the end of the movie, we finally see Bowie himself responding to an email Will sent him, talking about how he loves his band. I felt the universe realign in this moment where I saw my hero for the first time.


Once again, I meet Bowie in the context of a film. This time it was “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” I could never forget that shot of Emma Watson standing in the back of a truck, flying through the air while “Heroes” blasts in a tunnel. This became a precursor to my plunge into his discography.


My middle school years were a time where I knew very little about music, but I still knew Bowie was my favorite artist. I can still remember sitting on the floor during my first listen of “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”

The Monday morning of Jan. 11, 2016 became a moment of infamy that has stayed with me since it happened. I was getting ready for a day in the eighth grade, still riding the high of the release of “Blackstar” after a few days. I walked downstairs and was confronted with a CNN headline: SINGER DAVID BOWIE DIES AT 69. I was in shock. Tears immediately filled my eyes, and I could still cry thinking about this. The week was difficult (as my favorite actor Alan Rickman also passed), and each time I remember he is gone to this day, I am saddened by the loss of a man I never knew. 

That last point raises a compelling question: why do we mourn the losses of our heroes so intensely, especially when we never knew them personally? Let’s look at my memories beyond his passing to help illustrate why.

Bowie in 1987. (Ebet Roberts/Redferns)


In the middle of my junior year, I stumbled across “Word on a Wing,” a love song in the middle of 1976’s “Station to Station.” It was – and still is – the most beautiful song I have ever heard. I consider the Thin White Duke period of Bowie’s work to be his best, but this soared beyond that of his other songs. In that moment, I found my all-time favorite song on my all-time favorite album.


Earlier this year on Twitter, I saw an announcement for the “Moonage Daydream” documentary. Tears streamed down my face in excitement, so I was thrilled for the day I could buy my tickets and experience a deeper representation of his life.

Cut to Sept. 17, the night where I finally got to see the documentary. I was a wreck, openly sobbing in the middle of the IMAX theater before the movie even started. I was shocked to hear some of my favorite songs throughout, especially “Word on a Wing,” as it is not one of his more popular tracks. Words cannot describe the euphoria that surged through my brain when I heard the opening piano melody. 

Let’s backtrack to my previously posited question. For me, mourning the loss of Bowie has morphed into a celebration of his life. There is at least a second every day where I am listening to one of his songs, throwing on my zip up hoodie with his “Let’s Dance” tour logo on the back or I’ll see his face in passing on my social media.

When I am brought to tears because of his death, I am not trying to mourn what we lost but find gratitude for the man we had. He brought us 25 impressive studio albums, tours (the first North American tour being in Cleveland, by the way), movies, pieces of artwork, writing and more.

It’s hard to sum up my thoughts succinctly on such a transcendent figure. Bowie will continue to guide me through my life, as his philosophies and words have shaped me this far in life. I wish I could thank him for everything he has shared with us, but I know he can sense my gratitude from the stars.