I knew it was coming. I’ve thought about it and how it would be. What it would mean and what it would change. Honestly, I never thought it would be like this. I really didn’t think it would hurt this much. My father died recently. I never knew him – seems I didn’t miss all that much. I saw him once in the last 40 years. Never had that role model. He taught me nothing…other than, by default, the importance of being a good father. The loss of David Bowie leaves a much, much greater hole in my life. Was Bowie some sort of father figure to me? Of course not. OK, a bit. A strange one to latch onto? Probably – but I’ve always loved the strange ones. He’ll be why.
A friend of mine taught her kids not to trust people who don’t like David Bowie. I did too. Mine, not hers, obviously. It’s weird that, isn’t it? Music can be partisan and wildly subjective and frequently inspires such sweeping statements but this isn’t all that much to do with music.
It’s an attitude. An openness, a fearlessness and above all, the ability to see beyond what’s in front of you. That’s what David Bowie means to me: worlds of possibility, flights of fancy and the magic of Art. It’s not self-loathing or akin to Punk’s impetus to Destroy or a denigration of where and who you are. Nor is it avarice, the myth of acquisition. It’s the idea that you can change, make something better, be something better and that you can make it happen yourself, using the power of your mind, right there in your bedroom or at your desk – holding a guitar, a brush or a pen. You may say He’s a dreamer, but He’s not the only one.
To generation after generation of awkward teenagers, He’s shown us how to make a merit of being different and, by inference (mine), the dread of fitting in too much. To this day, I distrust things that are too popular. If everyone likes it, I am not going to rush to discover it. David was the living representation of the power of ideas and the transformation of change. The inspiration to make things better, to make better things. To be a gentleman. To learn.
I wrote my real tribute to Himself last year in DARE. Thanks (so many, really) to Him, I have many ambitions. I’ve always wanted to write and my first book was always going to be about Bowie. How He changed my life and changed music forever and inspired almost all of my favourite artists. From the Sixties to ★‘s release last Friday, spanning seven decades, I know for certain that Music itself would have been different without Him. There are really only a handful of people in History that you can say that about. He rivals Picasso for his contribution to 20th Century Art.
I started buying Bowie records in 1982. Lots of them. That summer, I bought all of His Seventies albums, one a week, with my paper round money. It changed everything for me. I don’t have a favourite song or album. It’s all good. I play His music a lot. It never disappoints or fails to take me out of myself. The new record is incredible and a truly mind-blowing way to go. Give it a listen. Or, y’know, don’t – go find your own thing. Make something better.
Miss you already, David.