I will admit it. It was because of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I shouldn’t feel guilty about loving something so honest, and endearing, and important, but I do. That’s besides the point.

I was 13 years old and seeing the film adaptation of my favorite book, one I’d highlighted, and spilled coffee on, and lent to three friends, and slept with, and cried with, and loved so dearly. I’d been awaiting the release of the film for months, and had my mom drive me all the way to the chaotic supernova that was Garden State Plaza so I could see the film with my friends in its first weekend of limited release.

The movie was solid. My love for Logan Lerman was undying, and even if Emma Watson couldn’t do an American accent, she was still Emma Watson. And then there was the song.

The tunnel song isn’t specified in the novel, but I knew that logically, it’d have to play in the film, which was written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, who wrote the book. I’d avoided the soundtrack listings for the film, and limited my own guesses, because when I heard the tunnel song, it had to be new, untainted by memories or feelings I’d attached to it before. The tunnel song—a symbol of youth, and joy, and memory.

It was David Bowie’s “Heroes.” My mother raised me on “Modern Love,” and “Fame,” and “Changes,” but I’d never heard “Heroes.” I was stunned. I’d never experienced nostalgia, and happiness, and sadness, and longing, and angst, the way I experienced these feelings when I first heard this song, as Charlie stood up on the back of the truck and they drove through the tunnel. And the car left the tunnel, and the credits rolled like the tears down my face. Completely sober, I left the theater and called the boy I liked, my mom, and probably my grandmother, too. I told everyone I loved them, and how important they were to me, and that they made me a better person. A song had never made me do that.

And so, forever, this song will be entrenched in my heart, evoking such great feeling. And, forever, I will remember David Bowie. I went home that evening and studied his discography, finding more songs that resonated with me, more songs that sounded beautiful, more songs that made me feel less alone, and nostalgic, and sad, and happy, and longing, and angst, all at the same time. And for that, I love Bowie. A strange man, witty, and innovative, and so extremely talented, but most importantly, genius. Bowie’s innovations are the reasons why Lady Gaga is Lady Gaga, Kanye West is Kanye West, and Kurt Cobain was Kurt Cobain.

Bowie’s legacy is one of greatness. I won’t forget him and I will miss him forever. ♦