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Class

The world loves David Bowie.

It seems like every fourth of fifth Facebook post in my feed is about him. Some folks might be tired of so many blasts of information, but they all make me appreciate him even more.

And through all of them, from when he was a teenager campaigning for the freedom for boys to wear long hair, to reports of his final days, one thing stands out.

Class.

David Bowie wasn’t a class act; he was class personified.

Even in his most bizarre persona, even at his most outrageous, he was classy. I’ve yet to see an instance of him putting someone down. He didn’t get angry in public, but annoyed in classy ways.

He lavished praise on artists he liked, while never speaking ill of those he didn’t. Try searching the phrase “David Bowie complains” or “David Bowie insults.” You won’t find anything.

He never took himself too seriously. When interviewers questioned him about his importance and influence, he always shrugged it off with a modest smile and said, “It’s only rock and roll.”

Rock and roll is not supposed to be classy. It is supposed to be outrageous and loud and nasty and crass. Much of Blondie’s appeal was Deborah Harry’s sluttyness. Zappa sang about enemas. Joan Jet is a genuine badass. I love ‘em all. In rock, crass is the rule. Class is the very rare exception.

His death was as classy as his life. He could have garnered a lot of attention with essays about life and advice to his fans and thanks to his friends. Instead he kept his illness a secret, and made an album and created a play that said goodbye. Very classy.

When I read of his death, my first thought was “the world is now a poorer place without him.” Then I realized we will never be without him. His music is still part of our lives, and will continue to be. New musicians will be inspired by him, directly and indirectly, for at least the next century or two. The world is currently filled with abundant tributes and praise for him, but that will fade in time. But it will never fade out completely. A few hundred years from now, when we have long been forgotten, people will still be listening to his music and reading about his life. And some of them will notice that he was always really, really classy.

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