evening with bowie

bowie face




it is monday afternoon. a monday unlike any other monday. surreptitiously, some words appear in my inbox: BREAKING NEWS: BOWIE DEAD AT 69. i read this message and the moment rapidly ushers a cold sensation into my bones and my heart. what? there is surprise, shock, disbelief. why do i feel this? i get up, pack my things and leave for the day. i ride my scooter over to my brother’s house, where i share this feeling with him. he is surprised also, but more at my reaction. bowie is flesh and blood ~organic~ just like me, his time was always going to come. and, like everyone else, i’ve lived long enough to witness the deaths of a number of icons. but this is the first time i feel a loss, and it feels strange. the news dominates the media that evening and the following morning. there are tributes, and pictures of flowers and r.i.p twitter statements from famous people. as is generally the case, within 24 hours, this momentary blip in the life of the developed world has subsided and things are back to business as usual. i am sure, however, that if we were able to see into every house, there might be a great many people like myself tonight, listening to his music, remembering……..

despite the limitations of skin and bone, flesh and blood, this man was ageless to me, and somehow immortal. he was an artistic hero who has existed in my playlists and in a couple of pivotal films since the age of 13.  a friend reminded me, and rightfully so, that the music will stay, that there will be no loss of the music, the film, the art. death is, after all, where the immortality of the artist lives. but his death has given me the right kind of glasses to see the heart-feeling threads that have crept and grown across the years, tying us together, particularly through sound.

his music accompanied me during countless evenings, like this one, in my home. he was with me on endless train and bus rides as i watched out the window letting life rush past on the outside, drives, rides on the scooter, walks, dancing, conversations, in the cinema….. visiting the tremendous bowie exhibition in melbourne in september, i felt my heart sing as i reflected on the sheer depth and breadth of this man’s artistic output and the extent to which his music was a part of the soundtrack of my life so far. the music did not only walk side by side with me as i experienced moments, it helped to make these moments what they were, flavouring them with a smoothness, or with gay abandon, or quirky unexpected angles, or haunting melodies……..i confess that i feel that somehow the music meshed us together. what a beautiful trip he must have been on, to connect with so very many people! as i sit back and once again feel through his music, i am in awe that another person that i never met was able to achieve that, and for that i will always be grateful.

so i sit down tonight and sift through my music collection. i pick out 16 songs~ the ones that made me feel ~deep and hard~ the unforgettable ones…….it is a tough task……although my introduction to bowie came in the eighties with “fashion”, “ashes to ashes”, “china girl” and “absolute beginners”, there is one song, “life on mars”, that i think is most sublime. it doesn’t matter how many times i hear it, the echoing drumbeat accompanied by that soulful piano never fails to transport me into an old, empty theatre, where i sit, contemplating space and my own insignificance. it reduces me to what i really am ~ a tree, a cloud. it’s the final, haunting melody of the piano ricocheting in the emptiness that in the end makes my heart bleed and ache so divinely. with bowie words and melody come together in ways that resonate so perfectly, creating thick mood, punctuated by some very interesting bridges.

’cause love’s such an old fashioned word

and love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night,

and love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves,

this is our last dance

this is ourselves,

under pressure.

“queen bitch” and “suffragette city” are so symmetrical, so elegantly savage, so………………….”eight line poem” and “quicksand”~ sweet, bohemian blues ~ “….but the key to the city is in the sun that pins the branches to the sky” ~exquisite, heroin fed poetry. and what about “kooks”? this song brings me images of  bowie in the late sixties/early seventies living a life of peace and love in england with a young family, giving his young son advice “don’t pick fights with the bullies or the cads, ’cause i’m not much cop at punching other people’s dads”. ha!


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