And Time Stood Still

Ed. Note: Originally written January 20th, 2016. 

David Bowie’s music and influence has been a part of my life in some way since I was 11 years old. When I was a kid, he was bigger than life and inspiring at the same time. I remember seeing him on TV with Marc Bolan, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. I went to the library and listened to Hunky Dory, Aladdin SaneThe Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from MarsPin Ups and Diamond Dogs for hours and hours, transported into the worlds he created. When he retired Ziggy Stardust and introduced the Thin White Duke, I was well on my way to adolescence. I gobbled up the dark and acserbic albums Station to Station, Low, and Heroes and by the time my father brought home a poster for The Man Who Fell To Earth in 1975, I was a full-fledged teenager full of drama and angst listening to Fame, Young Americans and Fascination on new FM radio.

The year I got my first fake ID, I sang along to Ashes Ashes, Scary Monsters, and Fashion as my best friend and I drove around Hollywood bowiejumpsuitin a giant Ford Fairlane. Under Pressure, Let’s Dance, China Girl, Blue Jean and Dancing in the Streets were the soundtrack to a lot my life. I bellied up to the bar, held court with a Long Island Iced Tea in one hand and a cigarette in another. I experimented with my sexual identity, snorted “poppers” and danced until I could no longer stand.

And when it was time to let go of the drink, leave the drugs alone and change my life in 1987, Never Let Me Down stayed in my Walkman. I saw the Glass Spider tour as it stopped in Los Angeles the same year. It was the first I show I saw completely sober. Black Tie, White Noise, I Feel Free, and The Wedding Song punctuated my early sobriety with a little wisdom and freedom I had never known. Then there was silence and I was left with the old songs to comfort me until 2013 when he released The Next Day, which I listened to obsessively as I too, recreated myself.  Indeed, Bowie had a running soundtrack during some of the most poignant and life changing events of my life.

Then there were his films: Labyrinth, Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, Mr. Rice’s Secret, The Last Temptation of Christ, Basquiat, The Hunger, Jazzin’ For Blue Jean, Absolute Beginners, better served in another post.

When I opened my newsfeed the day before yesterday and saw he had gone on, away from here, I was just half surprised. I’d seen the Lazarus video, just few week or so ago and I commented to my sweetheart about how deeply it disturbed me and I hoped that it wasn’t a goodbye. It sure seemed that way though, especially when I paid closer attention to the lyrics. It disturbed and unsettled me for reasons I could not pinpoint then. It wasn’t that it was so unexpected because on some level I realize that life isn’t permanent and my most loved and cherished life changers will eventually move on to somewhere else. Indeed some have, Lou Reed, Freddie Mercury, and Steve Strange come immediately to mind but none affected me as deeply or profoundly as Bowie’s death.

lazarus

Look up here, I’m in heaven

I’ve got scars that can’t be seen

I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen

Everybody knows me now

Look up here, man, I’m in danger

I’ve got nothing left to lose

I’m so high it makes my brain whirl

Dropped my cell phone down below

Ain’t that just like me

By the time I got to New York

I was living like a king

Then I used up all my money

I was looking for your ass

This way or no way

You know, I’ll be free

Just like that bluebird

Now ain’t that just like me

Oh I’ll be free

Just like that bluebird

Oh I’ll be free

Ain’t that just like me

With his death, “our personal and collective inner landscape has shifted and we’re trying to come to terms with it” as Annie Lennox pointed out. His presence was always with me; a mainstay. I could always depend on Bowie for new and exciting. He never faded into the background; never forgotten. The hole his absence in the world leaves takes my breath away. What the legacy of his presence gave us, leaves me in awe especially when I thought about it as I laid in the dark last night waiting for sleep to come, elusive  and fleeting as it was.