Name me one damn song that can make me break down and cry…
On Monday it was any song by David Bowie. A static cell phone connection while I was driving laced with wind and muffled words. Come again. Did you say dead?
The call dropped. It gave me a minute to think: he just released a new album and he’s married to Iman and he’s cool. As if those three things formed a holy triumvirate that could buck mortality. I felt hollow inside like when the shade tree outside my house was cut down. Just an empty space now. From a dusty crevice in my brain came lyrics: ‘Something kind of hit me today, I looked at you and wondered if you saw things my way…'
I really loved that song from Diamond Dogs
. Edgy, dystopian, the album played like the demon remnant of glam rock alien Ziggy Stardust’s soul trapped in afterlife Hunger City. I used to listen to it too loud and all the time.
I never thought he’d die. That’s what I said to my kid when I got home. Before she could respond, a text came from a longtime friend: ‘Playing ‘Rebel, Rebel’ full blast in the car. Thinking of you.’
It flipped my switch and I remembered the transmission and live wire when we were a juvenile success forty years ago hanging out on Sunset Strip, sneaking into the Troubadour and the Roxy through the back stage door, and, although we were way under age, ordering drinks at The Rainbow. When going to The Whiskey, The Stardust or Gazarri’s was something to do before the 3a.m. showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show because that’s when all the real freaks and transvestites crawled out of the cracks in the sidewalk. A few more quick flashes in my mind: a party in Laurel Canyon, too stoned at the drive-up burger joint, Tiny Naylor’s, tequila shots in the back seat of a Silver Cloud RR, and a cacophony of David Bowie songs that I still listen to. Me and him had lived a lifetime together.
People paid tribute calling him artist, innovator, fearless creative and of course, the over-used best compliment of all― a chameleon. I personally think that he was more of a disco ball of mirrored and fractured light. Yet, as many words as there are to describe him and his art are as many more words that need to be invented. A friend mused upon his passing; he wasn’t trying to be famous. He was paddling his own canoe and there was no place else for it to go. Her favorite Bowie: Labyrinth – Magic Dance
. Bad hair, worse puppets and a happy baby. He was just into it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvyNOg4jSRg Another friend told me that his voice was more beautiful than his music was unique. The acapella version of Under Pressure
is like listening to the rare echoes of an ancient cathedral. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PbHXMJJ-dY For me, my best Bowie moment only cost a dollar-fifty. It happened long ago at an old theater with a faux starlit ceiling when I was still an absolute beginner. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8NZa9wYZ_U In a 2007 interview Bowie said, “…as you get older you become the person you always should have been…” In other words, it’s a round world which makes the journey of twists, turns and tragedies an illusion. It’s a sort of heartrending resignation for us wandering wildlings that were first enticed by a leopard messiah to ride the rollercoaster of David Bowie’s incarnations. They began with a disjointed message from a spandex-clad extraterrestrial and ended with the very private optimism of a father and husband. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40c0wjFeFPY A few months ago I mentioned to my daughter that no one ever mourns the death of poet’s anymore. We were sitting at a stop light staring straight ahead at nothing, really. With a slight sideways glance of incredulity she replied that it was because there were no poets. The light turned green, my favorite Killers
song came on the radio, and we drove on. However, the passing moment of my aged naiveté had left its mark on her. On Monday night, she posted me a gift―one of Bowie’s poems:
There was a boy A very strange enchanted boy They say he wandered very far Very far Over land and sea A little shy And sad of eye But very wise Very wise was he
Then one day A magic day he passed my way And while he spoke of many things Fools and kings This he said to me The greatest thing You'll ever learn Is to love And be loved in return
I read it and thought that for me he had died, but for my daughter, he’s just been reborn; death as art form. Not his last. Typical of him, isn’t it? Words by Katie Cocquyt