I’m not a crier as general rule. I’m pretty stoic and (I’d like to think) good in a crisis. So no one was more shocked than I to find myself crying hysterically at a bus stop the day Bowie died.
Post bus-meltdown I arrived at work and had to immediately go to the bathroom to pull myself together. Red eyed and emotionally exhausted before 9am. Happy Monday everyone. I spent the day avoiding eye contact, the topic, Facebook, Twitter and my phone as messages from my friends and family arrived… after work the mothership went straight in for the kill texting ‘the starman has become a star for real’ – Jesus!
I can’t really remember a time before liking Bowie. I can only imagine my route in was through the Labyrinth. My dad is a big music fan and I suspect he saw this as an opportunity to explain who Bowie was. Not just Jareth, the Goblin King, but a musical genius too. I distinctly remember at the age of about 13 or 14 Dad returning from Russia with a Bowie best of CD for me (with all the text in cyrillic) as a present…along with a book on Brecht (I was an odd child) and that was pretty much that. I was hooked.
Every important event of my teenaged and adult life has been set to the sound of his body of work. Every argument, every low moment, every setback made bearable by Bowie’s words, Bowie’s voice.
Memories flutter about in my head when I think of certain songs…
*Freezing to death and avoiding the rain at a bus stop on the Wandsworth Road to the sound of Modern Love awaiting the interview for what would turn out to be my first graduate job. (I am always ridiculously early for things)
*Making a badly timed Bowie joke in a GCSE drama lesson (our teacher had a stutter and was showing us a film called Changes, thus without thinking I, in my best Bowie voice, belted out ‘CH CH CH CHANGES’ to the horror of my classmates who were confused by my uncharacteristic scathing and brazen piss take of our kindly tutor.)
*Listening to my Bowie ‘Pep talk’ playlist on repeat before being interviewed to get accepted as a PhD student. Nothing makes me ready for action like Sound and Vision.
*Crying with laughter when watching the Flight of the Conchords sing ‘Bowie’s in Space’.
I think his death effected me so much as his music was such a formative thing for me. It was ok to be different, he was different, and this gave me confidence to be myself when that wasn’t always the path of least resistance. I’m sure this is a factor in why so many people feel this loss so keenly.
Bowie’s in space – but his work is still here and that is going to live forever.