Last night we lost our Starman. David Bowie tragically passed away on January 11, 2016 at the age of 69. I thought I would share 9 moments and corresponding songs where Bowie touched my life so profoundly.
1. My parents bought a few ’70s compilation CDs when that technology was newly introduced into our home. I remember playing the first track repeatedly, Space Oddity. It spooked yet delighted me how it stood out from the other tracks. I would listen to it with my eyes closed and count with him, 6,7, commenting countdown engines on. My young brain blasted off to a place I couldn’t yet touch with futuristic fervor, passion.
Bowie fooled me into thinking different was OK, he taught me at an early age you have the choice to make your own style.
2. On car trips in the 80s my brother and I would get super excited to do the “Under Pressure” duet when it came on the radio. Almost every time we fought about who’d get to be Bowie. Sorry Freddie, we loved you too but your register was way higher. Our duet of this song still happens when the stars align.
3. During my senior year in high school I flew out for my ‘campus tour’ <wink> of the University of Texas, which was the same weekend that David Bowie was playing Auditorium Shores with Nine Inch Nails. The show was part of the Outside tour in October 1995. Bowie took the stage after NIN and the young college ‘metal’ crowd thinned out, but we didn’t care. My brother was “watching me” for the weekend so we were determined to rock OUT.
We moved closer to the stage to enjoy the unappreciated and obscure delights Bowie played off the new album. Less than 10 feet from us stood the Thin White Duke. I will never forget watching him. Bowie didn’t have to dance or entertain the crowd like Trent Reznor did. He glided gracefully but deliberately in front of us an otherworldly creature or hologram. Occasionally he would totally freeze and pose. His stature was that of the quintessential Rock God.
Bowie forever blew away the notion of what a rock star could and should be. I didn’t (yet) know the one song he played that night, but I remember my brother yelling the title out to me when I asked… Joe the Lion.
4. I was a a reluctant “leader” during my last 2 years of high school. Somehow I was asked to join a group called the GOAL team who gave motivational speeches to at-risk students. I gave speeches to my fellow students about the virtues of setting goals. You can just imagine how well the sentiment was received by bad teens (many were older than me). However, my story about how I applied basic goal setting to get to see David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails always crushed it. The Bowie example was by far the most popular of all my anecdotes (designed to inspire them).
5. There was an old record store called Technophilia, which later moved into a school bus nobody could ever find. The record store was located just off campus, one block from Tower records in Janice Joplin’s old house (which is now Starbucks). While shopping one day with my brother I spotted this sign.
The sign above was the cut off top of a promotional sign the owner of Technophilia had on display. I have no idea what the bottom half looked like, but he said it was tall.
For some reason the super hippie owner of the store left a hammer randomly on the edge of some records. As I was admiring this cool sign my brother was walking down the row where the hammer was and yes it fell down on his foot. The guy originally wanted $40 o $50 for the sign, but I bargained him down to $18 due to the “foot trauma” my brother suffered from a random hammer falling on his sandaled foot.
I only had $20 on me and was living in a time before the magic of ATM cards also working as visas. Plus I’m pretty sure this gnarly dude wouldn’t have had a card machine. The shop was ‘cash only’ in a time when people had the nads to declare payment methods and still made money. There was no amazon or ebay to turn to… yet.
This Bowie promo sign has been hung in every place I’ve lived in since I bought it my first year at University. Best $18 ever spent.
6. In September 2000 I met my husband. That Christmas I received the newly released “Bowie at the Beeb” on double CD. We didn’t have the fancy Pandora or Spotify services back in 2000 or YouTube. Good CDs were precious commodities and we’d play our favorites over and over.
Bowie at the Beeb was and will forever be the soundtrack for falling in love with my husband. We would listen to the double CD back to back and enjoy it for hours. To this day when I hear songs from this album I smile and remember what an amazing time that was in my life, falling hard.
7. The first time I got up on a big stage for karaoke full of a room with people I didn’t know, Bowie was a natural artist for me to pull from. We were on a Christmas Cruise to the Caribbean with family and friends. In a room filled with 50+ drunken strangers I quickly chose Rebel Rebel and got an amazingly enthusiastic response (from more than just my husband, Mom and Dad). In that moment I am certain I channeled Bowie for strength. It also didn’t hurt knowing I knew every word and beat by heart. It flowed through me and to this day I love karoke. The first thing I check at a new karaoke bar is how much Bowie they have – that’s how I judge the quality of their catalog.
8. In 2013 I flew to see the David Bowie exhibit in Toronto. Watching my young nephews enjoy the Bowie exhibit and discover him was awesome. Bowie’s exhibit had so many artefacts, everything from his cocaine spoon during his Germany phase to scribbled notes. It was overall the most amazing visitor experience I’ve ever had at a museum. There was an automated sound tour coupled with vignettes based on your entrance and exit location. Top to bottom it was theatrically joyous. For whatever reason Bowie didn’t bring his exhibit to the US, but I am so thankful I got to see it. The costumes alone were worth it.
9. The last moment happened this morning. On the way to a meeting earlier today I took a cab. The driver asked me how I was. Typically the answer is “fine, thanks” or some generic obligatory pleasantry. Today I didn’t think and said “I am upset Bowie died.” Turns out that he was too. He told me about how he and some friends all went as Bowie for Halloween last year, but each was a different one. Epic! This driver, Tom, would teach me to remember something I’d forgotten… Bowie gave us a gift that will outlive us all, his music. Bowie’s music will continue to transcend space and time.
Bowie would sometimes write his songs on little strips of paper with random phrases he liked, then he strung them together at the end. I’ve heard in interviews that he worked this way. That always impressed me. So much about David Bowie has impressed for as long as I have had memories. Today we lost the biggest legendary musician we’ve ever known and I decided to grief-blog. Sharing these 9 moments and songs made me feel slightly better, thanks for your attention.via @annebot — January 11, 2016