My husband told me this morning at the breakfast table.
"Something happened today that's going to upset you."
"Something in world news?"
"Yes. And it will affect you personally. Should I tell you?"
"I don't know." I was thinking about getting the kids off to school and I didn't want to sink into a whirlpool of grief until they were dressed and out the door.
"It's going to ruin your day," he said. "But you'll hear about it other ways."
"Okay," I said. "Tell me."
"David Bowie died."
I let loose with an expletive and immediately hid my face. Crash, crash. No. Not him.
He had cancer for 18 months, my husband told me, and somehow the world didn't know as he put together Lazarus. Interesting name, that. I went to Facebook briefly and saw that I had posted a lot about Bowie recently (was someone releasing a lot to bolster his sense of his impact on the world before he left...I had interpreted it as just publicity around Blackstar), and with one revolving gif that showed all his different identities, I had titled it "Always and forever." As I knew somehow.
I'm forever grateful to Amy Carpenter for introducing me to David Bowie with a mixed tape back in the '80s. He was then popular for Let's Dance, but she gave me the wierder 1970s stuff that opened strange doors that I'd never close again. I loved David Bowie's music, his mutability, his creativity, his vocal idiosyncrasies. His work was filled with emotion and I responded to that.
I'm also forever grateful to my college boyfriend who orchestrated our going to a Bowie concert in Stuttgart, Germany. We were there visiting his brother in Ansbach (we were both on junior year abroad), and we heard on the radio that Bowie was playing in Stuttgart, not too far away. We had Interrail passes which gave us unlimited travel on the railway systems of Europe since we were considered temporary European residents for attending college for a year there, so we said goodbye to his brother and sister-in-law and hopped a train for Stuttgart. We headed for the concert hall there, bought scalped tickets outside, and proceeded in.
It was an amazing show. It was BEYOND AMAZING. It was the Sound + Vision tour, and I'm forever grateful that if I only got to see Bowie perform live one time, it was when he was playing the songs of the '70s that I loved. Sound + Vision was almost like a "greatest hits" tour. And I personally love the song Sound and Vision and what it says about the creative process. He was one of the first to play with video footage and there was a giant three-story David Bowie that accompanied the real man on the stage, interacting with him in clever and sometimes mindblowing ways, bending down to talk with him and the like. It was extraordinary and so freaking cool.
We spend so much on the scalped tickets that we didn't have enough money for a place to stay afterwards (and I think we didn't return to Ansbach because it would be so late at night and we didn't want to wake them--they had a small daughter too. Man, that girl is probably in her early thirties now...whoa...). So, instead we rode the trains for the rest of the night, picking a destination at the end of the line, trying to sleep as best we could, then deboarding and randomly picking the next train going the furthest away, all with that tired exhilaration that comes from watching a great concert, strains of music still in your ears.
We were doing just what he said, "driving like demons from station to station."
I'm sad to have to say goodbye to a musical hero that has filled (and will continue to fill) my life with so much pleasure and ...well, feelings. You can't just have his music on as a background; it's impossible not to dance to it or sing along and wish that you could tell him personally how much his words and music meant to you. I now have to erase one fantasy off my list, the backyard BBQ where we sing Under Pressure together. I guess that means I need to get moving on my other fantasies.
Ain't there one damn song that can make me break down and cry?
Yes, David: all of yours.
My sympathies to his wife and family.
. . . . .