So when I was a kid growing up in Mahopac, N.Y., I didn’t understand David Bowie.

Or, put simply: His music and persona seemed weird to me. I was your typical kid, digesting the pop created for my little brain. I understood Madonna and Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson and Hall and Oates and Huey Lewis and a million other artists playing on the radio. But Bowie—no. Creepy, quirky, unconventional. He had a song that was quite popular, “China Girl,” that came out in 1983 and made me want to vomit. I just hated it, and I didn’t like him.

Then, I grew up.

I don’t mean that in that typical, “Grow up!” insult way. I mean I started to appreciate music that wasn’t all surface. I came to admire irony, subtlety, metaphors. I realized not all great songs had to conform to the whole four-chord thing; that musicians were allowed to be experimental and odd. In fact, that the best musicians were supposed to be experimental and odd.

So I gave Bowie a second chance—and loved everything about him. He was a genuine musical genius, and from “Space Oddity” to “Heroes,” the guy just brought special oomph to all the songs he touched.

When I learned that David Bowie died today after a long battle with cancer, I immediately thought of the Concert for New York after 9.11. It was held at Madison Square Garden, and featured artists ranging from Destiny’s Child to the Backstreet Boys to the Rolling Stones to Five for Fighting to Bowie. He played “Heroes”—and, yeah. Chilling, amazing, remarkable. The link is above.

David Bowie, rest in peace. I’m glad I found you …