The first thing that that greeted me this Monday morning, apart from the rain splattering on my window, was a message stating David Bowie had died. His illness had been a very well kept secret and so most people were shocked. I suspect that many people drove or walked to work with a Bowie song echoing in their ears or minds.
In the Seventies, this androgynous, alien looking man changed our vocabulary with his extraordinary lyrics in a way that only a contemporary Bob Dylan had managed. A real Star Man in many ways.There were so many great songs that to list all my favourites would take many sentences that you probably haven’t the time or inclination to read.
Extraordinary phrases like, ‘Time takes a cigarette and puts it in your mouth’ from Rock & Roll Suicide, or ‘Billy rapped all night about his suicide, how he’d kick it in the head when he was twenty five’ from All The Young Dudes were the words that lingered with me forever. But I will mention one more song…Changes. This stuttering verse about how he saw himself, or ‘how the others must see the faker’ captured my attention and intrigued me totally; especially the last line; ‘Time may change me but I can’t trace Time.’ People who read this Blog regularly will know that the concept of Time has always intrigued me.
Bowie comments in that song that he still didn’t know what he was waiting for and his time was running wild. It seems to me that David often thought about death and the changes in him as he grew older. I can understand that. As we get to certain ages we become more reflective. There are milestones in every life, whether that is a birthday ending with the numeral 0, children being born or the deaths of contemporaries. The death of a favourite artist will always hit hard. For musicians calendar our lives with songs and tunes we only have to hear and be placed back in time to the moment with which we associate it. It’s a mystery why a certain set of notes can evoke memories and emotions. Why some melodies are ‘blue’ or melancholy when others uplift us and make us feel joyful. After all, we are told they are just mathematical sequences but surely it goes deeper than that?
David will now know what happens when we die. He once said that in his mind he was always twenty years old even though he constantly seemed to reinvent himself by changing. Not all change is bad. What the pupae calls death, the moth calls life. The bulb “dies” in the soil, yet comes alive in the Spring transformed into something more wonderful. To endure all that a normal life entails, with all the creativity and invention that each person brings into the world, seems a little pointless if it all ends at death. ‘Ashes to ashes, funk to funky’ sang David. If he is more funky wherever he is now, then he really must be something else.
‘The planet Earth is blue’…perhaps just a little bluer today, Major Tom.
David Bowie had a gift which was the soundtrack to many of our lives. I am so glad he shared it with us.