Turn and face the strange. It was never a bad philosophy to live your life by and now part of facing that strange is to be living in a world without David Bowie being alive.
But, of course, he is still alive. Forever with his arm draped around Mick Ronson’s shoulder, forever taking a walk on the infinite beach of immortality, dressed as a clown.
Even as I wrote that sentence, tears filled my eyes. Bowie’s passing is just so bloody emotional because it is so inextricably tied up, not just with our past, but with our formative years. In a very real sense, David Bowie helped make a generation what it was to later become.
And yet we took his genius rather for granted in the 70s. One brilliant record after another just fell in front of us and we ate it up hungrily and then asked for more. His run of records from 1969 to 1982 is jaw-dropping. Unrivalled in it’s consistent genius, veering across so many styles and yet always stirring, joyous, anthemic, soulful and…well…what other adjectives have you got? They all work.
Music is always evoking our past but Bowie’s seems to be tied to every single detail. Enjoying Space Oddity as an 8-year-old. Going to Grammar School in September 1972 with Ziggy on my mind. Going through puberty listening to the exciting rock weirdness of Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs. When your whole world was turned upside down by hormones, his music was the perfect document of those changes.
And then in the late 70s, listening to Low, Station to Station and Heroes and being in love for the first time, feeling like you were growing up, as every single day came and went. At every step of the way, Bowie’s music was there. It wasn’t just a backdrop, it was almost a guiding hand, moulding and shaping your consciousness, always the light shining into the darkness that was the future.
And I know this is not just a music crazy kid’s recollection, it is a whole generation’s experience. Think about it – do you know anyone who doesn’t love at least one Bowie record? No, you don’t. And everyone I’ve ever loved in my life has always also loved Bowie, so much so that, in hindsight, maybe it was a subconscious qualification.
His music doesn’t remain in the nostalgia bin, though, and that’s why it’s power is undiminished. That’s why every generation discovers it and takes it to their heart. It is beyond being then or now. It isn’t old or new. It is transcendent.
And here come the tears again.