Unlike a lot of fellow music geeks, I don’t have a whole lot of connection to David Bowie as a musician. I hear people gush about Diamond Dogs, Ziggy Stardust, Station to Station and what have you…they just never caught on with me. But one song of his impacted me like a crater: Space Oddity. When I saw it was on the Rock Band 3 opening roster, I said to myself, “Well, there’s a song I’ll never be able to sing in public.” He encapsulated exhilaration, triumph, wonder, loneliness, tragedy and resignation in five minutes and change. And he did it when he was 22 years old, the jerk. The song’s so incredible it inspired Chris Hadfield, an actual astronaut, to cover it aboard the International Space Station.

I may not have experienced much of the mania surrounding the man, but I saw how much he influenced so many people for the better, and I respected the hell out of him for it. He made weird okay. Hell, he made it fashionable. I marveled at the way he could shed identities like last night’s suit. He most likely had a hand in my androgynous leanings and my views on gender roles. And the lead-up to his last album, knowing that he was dying the entire time…Jesus.

Bowie superfans treat him like a wizard or a god, but the greatest thing about him was: he wasn’t magic. He was another human being on this dumb planet, just like the rest of us. He managed to do all the things he did with the same amount of time you or I have. If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.