A little more than 20 years ago, I spent a few glorious months of my high school senior year working at the local record store. Nothing feeds a music addiction like having a discount on every single purchase.
I had been a David Bowie fan for YEARS by this time.
“Ashes to Ashes”
…the list goes on and on.
And then Ryko re-released Bowie’s catalog–on CD, now–an incredible outpouring of accomplishment on plastic for all of us to consume. A massive box set, “Sound+Vision”, was released, as well, out of the reach of my meager earnings but enough for me to covet. When Bowie came around on tour not long after, proclaiming this the last time he’d play those songs in concert, I knew I had to get tickets.
My friend and I grabbed lawn seats at Merriweather Post Pavilion, and we enjoyed the pleasant weather and soaked up some Bowie. I don’t remember the order in which he played the songs except that “Heroes” and “Ashes to Ashes” were back to back. So much yearning. So much sadness. It was impossible not to cry listening to him.
Over the years, as my musical tastes have expanded and contracted and expanded yet again, David Bowie remained one of the constants. He even bled into my watching habits (“Labyrinth”, “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, etc.). It’s not possible for me to watch “Velvet Goldmine” without thinking of him, even though only the titular song is his (well, that and the inspiration for several characters).
Most recently, “Moonage Daydream” was featured in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”. The song easily became a favorite of the kids, as the soundtrack was on perma-repeat in my car for months on end. At one point, when my son needed to do a fashion show for me, showing off what of his clothes fit and what needed to be handed down to a friend’s son, he requested music. “Ziggy Stardust” was his pick, and he gleefully danced and partied to the incredible music as he tried on outfit after outfit.
On my ride home from work yesterday, I fished around on my radio as I drove in a pure funk over the hole in my heart. One of the satellite stations was playing “Space Oddity”, and the RDS on my radio alternated between saying “David Bowie / Space Oddity” and “He’s Up There / Isn’t He?” I cried and cried.
Sure, I never met him and I only knew him through his art. But his music spoke to me in ways that set him apart from so many others. No pop tart or vapid boy bander, here; he was freaky and avant-garde and never–ever–boring.
Maybe you don’t ever truly appreciate someone until you know they’re gone, until you realize the definition of “finite”. I’ve had too many reminders of that in the last few years, thanks to cancer (which also took Bowie).
And so it is with great sadness that I bid adieu to the man…but never to his music. Never, EVER to that.
RIP Ziggy </3