or: The Profound Effect of the Life and Death of David Bowie.
Living so close to where I work, I don’t have to rise from the depths of sleep till 8 o’clock. Society wakes up; people make their daily commute, take their children to school, and all the while, I remain blissfully unaware of the troubles of the world. Every morning, my alarm disturbs me from my slumber, pushing me to roll over, unlock my phone, scroll through Facebook, and then head to the shower. It’s an automatic process, run by a body clock influenced by the 9 to 5, and I’m not really aware of my surroundings until choosing which clothes will adorn my body for the day ahead.
It was to my great surprise, then, that today my first moment of consciousness was weeping in the shower at the loss of the late, great David Bowie. As a man who hates overt displays of drama, it was a profound, incomprehensible moment.
But, why? Why am I confused to be so physically and emotionally affected by the news of his death? After all, along with Placebo, he was the music of my infant years. I was fortunate enough to see him on the 2003/04 Reality Tour, at the tender age of 11, from the stalls of the NEC in Birmingham. For as long as I can remember, I’ve known the lyrics to ‘Queen Bitch’, ‘Heroes’, ‘Absolute Beginners’ and a whole host of other classics. He was influencing my life before I even understood any of the words I’ve typed in this article. Heading into my teenage years, the simple, powerful chords of ‘Ziggy Stardust’ were regularly heard blasting out of my amplifier, and at the age of 21, a fortunate series of events lead to my possession of every vinyl Bowie album from his self-titled debut record to 1979’s ‘Lodger’, a feat I didn’t think I’d be able to achieve for many years to come.
He has been one of the few constants in my life.
I spoke to my parents on the phone yesterday, for the first time since Christmas, and we wound up commenting on Lemmy Kilmister, the last Rock’n’Roller. In a frightful omen, we agreed that there’s no real genre for true talent, for true genius. The same is said about Bowie, from his utterly groundbreaking foray into Funk and Soul, to his pioneering of Electronic music; his controversial public personas, to his poignant final releases; he is . . . he was . . . one of the world’s greatest artistic talents.
So far today, however, I have been unable to fully address the crux of my grief; even attempting to penetrate the surface pushes me into unnerving realms of despair that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone because, at the core of it all, Bowie gave me more than just amazing music, incredible art, and provocative style.
He gave me my relationship with my dad.
Aside from my mother, there are two great passions in my dad’s life: music and sport. He worked a lot when I was younger, and I resented that I was unable to spend more time with him. Moreover, with my brother also interested in sports, I jealously saw a bond form on the weekends that I was not privy to. As a youth, it’s difficult to understand different perspectives and motives, and so it wasn’t until my music-enriched teenage years, when my tastes had matured, that I was able to branch out and make a stronger connection with my dad. It was later still, when his homage to 70’s/80’s club nights, Only After Dark, really took off, that I began to understand and appreciate that his absence, working hard and sacrificing precious time spent with his children, made sure my brother and I had the best possible upbringing.
Today has driven home a painful, but ultimately life-shaping, realisation that without our shared love of David Bowie’s incredible music (one of the main driving forces behind the club night), and the opportunity it gave us to work together on other Only After Dark related projects, I fear that I would never have been able to build a meaningful relationship with my father.
No amount of words will ever truly describe how much that means to me.
Bowie gave the world everything, to the very end. For one reason or another, I have yet to listen to the entirety of ‘Blackstar’. It has become his epilogue, his swansong; the final chapter for one of the world’s most beloved artists. And perhaps, for that reason, I don’t think I’m quite ready. Not yet. Tomorrow, the world will wake up; people will make the daily commute, take their children to school, and I, too, will get out of bed, have a shower, and head to work.
Right now, however, the passing of David Bowie entitles the world to stop.
Just for one day.