Well dammit. David Bowie passed after an 18-month battle with liver cancer. People are gonna die (VALAR MORGULIS*), that’s what we do if we do nothing else, but of course, dying is going to be the least of what Bowie is remembered for. I am crying on and off. I don’t own any of Bowie’s albums anymore; I’m a fan, but I can’t name albums and dates and times and personalities, but I know many of his songs by heart and his work was definitely a part of my growing up, my becoming who I be today… hence, “metaphysical vagina.”** I was born partially of David Bowie.
(*I stole this joke from my friend Madde’s dad.
**”Metaphysical Vagina” is a series of blog entries about those who have birthed me into who I am, started on the Dirty Curls site. Current members of the club include Lida Husik, Steve Martin, and Lil Kim. Tori Amos is a member too, I just have yet to write that one. Holy shit, that’ll be a horrible day when she dies. )
Every. Time. I hear the opening guitar of this song…
it takes me right back to my uncle’s house in Banning, CA, where our family is full and laughing and it’s before drugs and alcohol and death and marriages and births and heart attacks. There’s smoke hanging in the air from cigarettes (my uncle and my grandmother, loose chainers) and the breaking of billiard balls is an off-beat punctuation. The whole “Let’s Dance” album was played, but I only remember the first three songs (Modern Love, China Girl, Let’s Dance), which now, upon Googling, makes me feel like I missed out on something because “Cat People” is on that album. Unless maybe it wasn’t played because it’s inappropriate for youngins? This is definitely possible, because the song “China Girl,” I am just now realizing listening to it again, that it makes me feel funny in places like my nethers, but also my racism radar. Like in this adorable moment:
So that was the early 80s.
Then, in the mid-80s…
Rightfully so, this movie’s legend has been pretty vivacious since the mid-90s, or is that just me? A re-watch at age 19 made me wish I never did, but then another re-watch in my late 20s revived my love. All I know is I know of TWO SEPARATE PEOPLE (both cis dudes) who have cosplayed as Jareth The Goblin King in the past TWO YEARS, so way to go, Bowie’s longevity (and paired with Jim Henson? FUN DIIIPPPPP!).
THEN, on the heels of the success of Labyrinth, in 1987 Bowie released his most critically-panned album to date, but 10 year-old Courtney LOVED THE SHIT OUT OF IT.
I made a dance to the song “Glass Spider” and used it in an audition for my 5th grade talent show (totally did not get cast in the talent show). Please listen to that song now to know how insane that is that a 10-year old would choreograph a dance to it:
Also, this is the song that introduced me to the word “macabre” and I think of it every time the word comes across my path.
Then I got into the glam rock of the early 90s and my Bowie fascination was stunted. Even when my college roommate Alex lauded “Space Oddity” as her favorite song and I included it on that year’s mix tape. Even when my pal Leo was playing “Diamond Dogs” on vinyl while we smoked weed in his Spanish Harlem apartment 10 years later, even when the Steve Zissou soundtrack was a gorgeous tribute, nothing truly got me hooked. Not even “Bowie’s In Space!” Maybe I thought I knew, maybe I just had my favorites already. But, Bowie’s never really been an artist I point to as a favorite, but for no reason except that he’s seeped into my subconscious so much over the past almost four decades, that he’s not on the tip of my tongue as an influence. But, he most definitely is. And as I get more into his discography, I’ll have more “oh yeah!” moments… wow, it’ll be like living with my parents.
I can’t say anything about David Bowie’s mark on us that’ll be revolutionary, but shit, man, I feel blessed for all of us that he landed on Earth. A man of artistry, integrity, and authenticity. See you in dreams, melodies, and chords, man.