Insert picture of David Bowie I stole off the Internet here.
I have so much to say about David Bowie. I was driving my son to symphony rehearsal tonight and there was an interview on the radio. My son asked, “Can we listen to some music?” “No.” I said. “This is David Bowie.” I gathered he hadn’t heard the news and explained. He said, “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!” My 13-year-old son then told me how heartbroken his friend was going to be when he told her (which I’m sure she knows already). I love how timeless music is! It was a great interview and I thought he was rather patient with the lady as he explained that Ziggy Stardust was just 18 months of a 40 year long career (he was 55 back then). He said in England, he’s known as a “bloke” who’s written lots of great songs. In the U.S., we can’t get over his brief alter ego. That was never the case for me. He also said he never lived for the stage, which surprised the interviewer. My son then asked, “Is this an interview from before he died?” Hmm. There are two possible answers to that. 1. Yes. 2. No, it’s a live interview from Heaven.
When I saw an article about his death last night, my reaction was, “No, he’s supposed to be in the news because he just released a new album! This can’t be right!” I thought it must be a hoax, but article after article started popping up in my Facebook newsfeed. I learned that he kept his cancer a secret and just kept doing what he loved – writing music.
I loved David Bowie since I was a child. He was entertaining, but I also felt he was a kind man. He was a superstar, yet he seemed humble. How does one pull that off? I was so excited to see him in Labyrinth when it came out. Well, except for the tights. Tights on men make me feel uncomfortable – like I’m looking at a naked Ken doll. He did a great job as the Goblin King, although I wasn’t really happy about having feelings of dislike towards him as the villain. At first I was, “Ew! Goblin King! Find Toby and get the heck out of there!” Then he starts singing “As the World Falls Down” and I briefly thought, “He’s singing a dreamy song to you and he’s obviously in love, so maybe dump the annoying baby and live there forever in creepy Muppet Land.”
Years later, I saw a show with him that was in interview/concert format. More than ever, I was so struck by how genuine and kind he seemed! I also loved it when he shared that he always had his lyrics on stage or else he’d forget them. It never occurred to me that a songwriter would forget their own lyrics.
In 2005 when I still had TV reception, I was flipping channels when I was lucky enough to catch this performance. I hadn’t seen Bowie in quite a while and I had never heard of “Arcade Fire”. I was thinking that he wrote a song and that they got this huge group of random musicians together to perform it. There are few songs that I love instantly, but this was one of them. I got the impression that he was very emotional at the moment and that it wasn’t an act. I learned later that it was his first performance since his heart attack, which I didn’t know had happened. I also learned that he agreed to do the show on one condition – he would get to perform with Arcade Fire.
I had never heard of them, but now I’m quite a fan because of him. I think not only was he trying to help them get their big break, but that the song really spoke to him, dare I say, in his Golden Years? What this song says to me is that after all my years, I know what’s important now and I wish I had known it sooner.
I never imagined that someday, David Bowie’s music would help me through one of the most traumatic, yet wonderful experiences of my life. As my husband and I prepared to have our first baby, we went to a childbirth class and the instructor told us we needed to have relaxing music for the beginning of labor, but when it’s time to push, you need music that will energize you. It’s amazing how much music helped me.
I made the absolute best choices. “As the World Falls Down” was on my mixed tape of relaxing music (I didn’t think about the creepy Goblin King aspect). “Heroes” was on there to help me focus on my belief that I could go through anything for my son. I didn’t feel like drugs were an option for me or him. “Under Pressure” became what I call my “pushing theme song”. I knew a lot of women at that point feel like they can’t do it anymore. I needed something that would make me laugh and remind me of who I was when things were possibly about to get even harder.
Sure enough, after a nightmarish week (that’s not a typo) of labor in which I went at least four days without sleeping and dealing with one of the worst doctors I’ve ever met, I laughed when it was finally time to push and my husband put the song on. My nurse thought it was hilarious. At the same time, I felt inspired when I heard, “Pressure! Pushing down on me …..” It must have been the sleep deprivation, because I felt no pain after that point – not even as my son was born. Or maybe Bowie’s music really is that magical (combined with the forces of Queen).
It was as if my labor had a soundtrack. I took all of the emotion of that song and I grabbed the power back from the doctor who made my labor a living Hell. That’s a post for another day, but a nice doctor had to take over when the other guy had to go do a c-section. With my new found determination, the new doctor was scrambling to get his gear on.
One last comment on David Bowie. When I was really getting into Flight of the Conchords and was looking up their songs on YouTube, I saw a song called “Bowie“. (The inspiration for my title) I wished, “Oh please let that be about David Bowie!” I was not disappointed. Not only do they do amazing impersonations of him, they have his various genres down! When I went to one of their concerts, they asked, “Are there any requests?” My friend and I both yelled, “BOWIE!!!!” Bret said, “Sorry, we already started playing.” With the next song, Jemaine said, “This is Bowie, but to a different tune.” He lied. Bowie ended up being their encore song! Such an awesome moment. What a privilege to have them mess with us and then grant us our wish. I think they were secretly thrilled we requested it.
Countless people are mourning the loss of David Bowie today. I can’t even imagine his family’s overwhelming grief. Thank you for sharing your music with us, David.