The world lost an icon this week, and I lost the closest thing I have to a unicorn, a creature of unimaginable beauty, magic, and wonder that makes your life better simply by touching it. There’s no such thing as a casual Bowie fan, everyone is converted in the end- even if it’s just that one album that you love. There is a Bowie for everyone. I am a lifelong fan. There was never a time in my life without Bowie and I don’t intend to be without him now. Heroes never die….
11 January 2016 will no-doubt always be remembered as the day Earth lost it’s most famous alien. David Bowie dies just days after releasing his final single, a song called Lazarus, where in the video he is seen in a hospital bed and struggling in and out of a coffin like wardrobe. He scribbles frantically because he’s ‘got to write it down’ so it won’t be forgotten, while knowing full well that Time is waiting in the wings. Oh, god you’re looking old, and frail. Frailer in life than any of us wanted to believe. One person tweeted “We were so glad to have him back we failed to notice he was saying good-bye”. But some of us noticed. Many of the reviews of Blackstar mention its unnerving strangeness, of something unknowable impending, of an old man’s struggle with his inevitable mortality. What strikes me now is how planned it seems. In true Bowie fashion, always one step ahead of us, He knew what was to come.
David Bowie needed no introduction in my life, he was always there. Older siblings vinyl records begat tapes and CDs of my own. I’ve owned multiple copies of Bowie’s Greatest hits gifted to me in virtually every format, from analogue to digital since I was 16. (And two copies of the Bowie Is exhibition book!) My fascination has been with me all my life, and I get lost in his back catalogue, the good stuff and the bad, never knowing what I might (re)discover. For me Bowie’s multiple personae exist all at once, each timeline happening simultaneously. While he sings somewhere “out in space it’s always 1982”, for me it’s always 1995 where Outside, Diamond Dogs and Low dominate my stereo. Since Ashes to Ashes Bowie’s songs and videos often feature call backs for earlier versions of himself, old and young taunt each other, make peace with each other, and eventually haunt each other. Not fractured but multifaceted, Bowie is my hero.
I was touched that news of Bowie’s death prompted so many people to contact me; my brothers sent texts from other cities, friends sent condolences through twitter, while others I haven’t seen in years suddenly got in touch. Friends I’ve bonded with over Bowie where on hand via private messages helping me process grief and shock (Thanks Nick & Chiaki). An old love remembered a Bowie poem I wrote now lost in time, another held me while I wept, and half-way across the world someone I haven’t seen since uni forwarded me the most perfect piece of fan-art. And all of these things in spite of the sadness, made me exceptionally happy. That friends should get Bowie’s importance to me, and that they might be feeling that loss too, disarmingly precious.
Amid the grief is a glimmer, a feeling that Bowie is not really gone. Because legends don’t die. Bowie invented himself,and fictional characters live forever. The world is only Bowie-less if we forget everything that he’s taught us. About how pretension is reality, and a facade could be your most genuine self expression, about how identity is not fixed but fluid, about how you can be anything you want to be. That we can be heroes, or even Spiders from Mars.
How did you feel about Bowie’s passing? I hope like me you think he lives on in the Dream realm. x