SUNDAY #94 – Bowie

I was alone in my living room back in Essex when I first heard the news David Bowie had died. My Dad & Brother left early for work, so when  I switched on the TV and saw the headline on BBC news, I felt cold.

My head was lead-heavy all day. I couldn’t concentrate properly at work, so I listened to Lauren Laverne’s special broadcast on BBC Radio 6 about the icon and tried not to cry. I thought about my Mum, who has loved him most of her life. As a teenager, she ran off to Milton Keynes with her friend to see him live, then got stranded and had to sleep at the train station. There’s not many people who are worth that kind of effort.

I’d only just got in to Bowie (even though friends had been recommending him to me for years) and I felt like my efforts to finally understand and love him had blossomed too soon. For months after the news, I’d get tearful when I got pissed up and heard ‘Let’s Dance’ playing out in a club or a bar. I felt silly for having such a strong reaction to the death of someone I’d never met, and who’s music I’d only been listening to for two years.

When someone like Bowie has such life-affirming appeal, it’s hard not to attach yourself to his ideas and his art. He has a song for every occasion, every emotion, every moment; even those gin-soaked few seconds in night clubs when you lose yourself and realise you still miss him.

Fortunately, his diverse and extensive discography means there’s always plenty of tracks to listen to, dance to, and be comforted by. Here are my favourites…

Lady Grinning Soul
The opening piano gives me goosebumps every time. I still pirouette around my room regularly to this. Aladdin Sane is probably my favourite Bowie album.

I’m Afraid Of Americans
An apt title and a belting chorus. The video shows Bowie being pursued by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, who helped him remix the track.

Rebel Rebel
The red hair, the red trousers…got me (and my Mother) in a whirl.

Let’s Dance
Still makes me tremble like a flower.

Heroes
I defy anyone to not feel better after listening to this. I played it after I handed in my final Open University assignment and felt infinite.

Life On Mars
Still hooked on this piece of cinematic, sweeping, blue-eyeshadow wearing glory.

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SUNDAY #73 -“Thank you for existing”

I visited the David Bowie mural in Brixton this weekend and it’s left me a bit choked.

My friend Rachel and I spent some time reading the messages left by fans and amidst the lyrics and expressions of love and sadness, there was a simple message that warmed my little walnut heart: “Thank you for existing”.

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English teachers tell you to avoid using the word ‘nice’ but sometimes it’s the perfect word to describe acts of kindness. I think this message is ‘nice’ because it rings true whether you’re as extraordinarily well known as David Bowie, or if you’re only known to a small but important minority of people.

Your existence might be small, but it’s powerful and it matters. Sometimes it takes something as shocking and sad as the death of David Bowie to remind you of that.

SUNDAY #65 – Party Time

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For once, I’m not the most hungover member of the family (well done me). Today, that award goes to my Mum, who is currently laying on the sofa watching/sleeping through Wimbledon, and trying not to be sick.

We’re all feeling worse for wear because we were celebrating my cousin Connor’s 21st birthday last night. I haven’t seen my cousins from my Dad’s side of the family in years, because we’ve all been busy growing up/getting hammered etc., so it was nothing short of bloody lovely to see them all last night.

We reminisced about the time Connor ran head first in to our patio doors, and when Charlotte didn’t know what Twister was. Alex and I also discussed the classic Crudgington childhood games; Jurassic Park (aka the greatest game ever invented) and ‘find the apple in the paddling pool filled with bubbles’.

I also had a healthy debate with Stan and Charlie about the EU Referendum (don’t worry, we’re still friends) and then I practically forced Charlie in to agreeing to teach me how to skateboard. We accomplished a lot last night, and I’d like to thank Stella Artois and Champagne for helping us achieve our goals.

Everything gets a bit blurry after that, but I remember dancing to David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ with my Mum, and trying not to tread on the (terrified) dog. Aunty Pat had told me earlier in the evening she’d recently re-watched her wedding video, and during the first dance you can see three year old me; dancing away, undermining their moment of marital bliss. 23 years later, I’m still indulging in the same behaviour.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in bed watching Series 3 of Girls.

An Ode to David Bowie

“The door to dreams was closed.
Your park was real dreamless
Perhaps you’re smiling now,
Smiling through this darkness”

David Bowie – ‘Time’

Last night I watched Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Motion Picture, a live recording of David Bowie’s 1973 performance at the Hammersmith Arena; it was mesmerising.

David Bowie is a new phenomenon to me. I watched a documentary entitled The Genius of David Bowie last year, and ever since I’ve been obsessed with him. Friends always told me to give him a chance but I just never took the time to listen or to learn about him. Then I saw a performance of ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ on said documentary, and I finally understood what everyone had been trying to tell me; the man was indeed a genius.

To a modern musical eye and ear, old footage of Bowie in a fantastically revealing cat suit singing about ‘Time’ who ‘falls wanking to the floor’, probably isn’t all that shocking. I think my generation is pretty desensitised to it. I don’t know who’s ‘to blame’ for this apathy, but it’s pretty difficult to ‘shock’ nowadays, which is what my parents were trying to explain to me last night. When David Bowie wore that outfit and sang that lyric in the 70’s, he simultaneously intrigued and disgusted a nation. My Mum said that her parents were pretty appalled by his androgyny; they wouldn’t let her play his music in the house. Luckily, my Mum was a bit of a Rebel Rebel, and travelled all the way to Milton Keynes with her friend George, to see Bowie in the 80’s. They missed their last train home and had to sleep outside the station. If I did anything remotely similar to that now she’d probably have a heart attack.

I don’t think there’s a single musician that my parents hold that strong an objection to these days (Thank God). They’ve never told me not listen to a particular artist, they don’t interfere with things like that; they understand that its personal choice and not everyone can love everything. I find it really hard to believe that their parents felt that strongly about David Bowie. Even if you take away the outrageous costumes and promiscuous, drug-fuelled lifestyle he had; his music is still incredible. His ability to tell a story is phenomenal; whether it’s about Life on Mars or the Panic in Detroit, Bowie has a way with words and rhythm that no new artist will ever be able to recapture.