gipsys musings

musings on writing and pop culture

The Special Man

Many folks have already posted their memories, mourning for David Bowie. I’ve purposefully kept my distance from most, focusing on work instead. It seemed far too hard for me to acknowledge that he’s gone – a man who gave me a template for living by not fitting into any template at all, and yet fitting into every one perfectly.

Under the weight of your wings
You are a god and whatever I want you to be
And I wonder if truly you are
Nearly as beautiful as I believe*

“Rebel, Rebel” was released just over a month before I was born. When I found this out as a young teen, I realized that so many things in my life made so much more sense when put through that lens. Throughout my life David Bowie was always there, though most of my “small” years, I never would have understood that the same person who sang “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl” on MTV was the same person as Ziggy Stardust. They were men who looked similar, but they couldn’t be the same person.

In my head
Your voice
You’ve got all that I need
And this make believe will get me through
Another lonely night*

As I grew up I saw more and more of his incarnations – you’ll see a lot of folks who talk about how he always “reinvented” himself. Yes, he did, but other than the relevancy that he was always ahead of the game on, his reinventions and reincarnations always held a continuity to me. No matter which Bowie we were presented, I would follow him anywhere and to anything because he was both fearless, diving into the deep-end head-first yet I always heard just a small thread of fear of failing to shed all of the last persona. Listening to him made me understand in a way I never got a different way the phrase “You must fear to be brave”.

Under the weight of your wings
Should ever we meet on your side of your stereo
I will pretend I know not of your thoughts
And even the way that they mirror my own
I’ll take you away in the way that you take me and go where I go*

Did I love everything he put out into the universe? No – I distinctly remember seeing him perform on Conan O’Brien in 1997 to promote Earthling and falling deeply in love with the acoustic version of “Dead Man Walking” with Reeves Gabrels (embed below).

Go ahead – hit play. It’s beyond amazing and it made me even more excited to run over to Camelot Records and pick Earthling up the day that it was released. If you’re familiar with Earthling, though, you’ll know that it’s electronica, not acoustic. I was so upset that what I heard on Conan wasn’t what I was hearing on the CD. It took me years to go back to Earthling without my preconceived notions (and purchasing Live from 6A which had the acoustic version) and understand that it’s really not a bad album at all even if it doesn’t rank in my Top 5 Bowie.

In my head
Your voice
You’ve got all that I need
And this make believe will get me through
Another lonely night*

There are so many other ways that Bowie excited and expanded my life, from movies, television, and even interviews, but music spoke to my soul, telling me that I could push through the fear and not only survive but excel as long as I believed in myself.

Bowie was and is my faith. He was never more human and more more-than-human than when I would hear his voice coming from my stereo. After having the kid, it was required to sing “Kooks” to her at any and every opportunity. When she was old enough, sharing Labyrinth became a priority. I don’t really think a day has gone by where I don’t hum something of Bowie’s under my breath at least, or belt out “Life on Mars” in the car on my way home from work. I’m one of the millions who can’t quite seem to get over the shock and start mourning a man I never had the opportunity to meet, yet he touched my life in a way that no one else had. My heart hurts for his family and for the world.


(*lyrics “In My Head” by Anna Nalick)