Just two days ago, in a list of “Things I like,” in an attempt to be less negative. One of the things I said was that though I’d never really liked all that much of David Bowie’s music, I very much liked knowing that a weirdo like him was still running around doing stuff, and apparently not retired.
And now he’s dead.
Where to start? What to say? So many anecdotes. He was my best friend’s favorite musician for like 30 years. There was the time when a clearly-irritated Miami music critic referred to him as “A Repulsive Future-World Space Queen,” in a review for one of his concerts. (Which, to be fair, is kinda what Bowie was going for, excepting perhaps the “Repulsive” part. I think he thought he was quite fetching.) As a result, I always wanted to name a band “The Repulsive Future-World Space Queens,” though I never quite had the nerve to do it. Sends wrong message. Still a funny name. Maybe I’ll do it now.
And of course my mind drifts to cheap comedy. His real name was “David Jones.” He changed it so as not to be confused with Davey Jones of the Monkees. No, really. (“I want my new name to start with a “B” like the Beatles, and I want it to be some kind of blade, like a “Jagger” is.” Could have been worse. He could have gone through life as “David Butterknife,” I guess.
I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I’ve been told that some early singles were released under his real name. I have a mental image of some happy 15 year old girl going to pick up the new solo album by that guy from the Monkees, and getting Bowie by mistake.
“Oh my Gosh! Davey’s gone crazy! I knew this would happen if he didn’t have Mike there to look after him!” Then she checks the liner notes “Oh, well, here’s the problem – he’s writing his own songs, rather than relying on Neil Diamond like normal!”
I told my kid. He said, “How will we survive without such characters as Ziggie Stardust, and Cobbler Bob, and various others who’s name I don’t know?”
I am genuinely sad. My biggest regret is that he never did more acting. I always appreciated – but frequently didn’t like – his music, but I was always fascinated by his acting. His paintings were pretty good, too, and he was unbelievably funny, and unexpectedly smart.
He had a good run, though he didn’t really do much of note after 1990. He seemed to realize this, too, and took like a ten year retirement, rather than release another mediocre album. Recently he put out two new ones, plus an album’s worth of outtakes and B-sides.
A few years ago, I read an interview where he was talking about his weird life, and how it was very laid back and domestic, now, and that he was happily married and raising his kid, and generally just very happy. “My whole life I’ve tried to figure out what I am and who I’m supposed to be, and it turns out that I was supposed to be my dad all along.” [Paraphrased due to my bad memory.”
The very last interview I read with him, the subject of religion came up. He said that every rational thought in his head told him there was no God, and he knew without question that there wasn’t, but that some part of him still suspected that there was. He described himself as a “Hopeful atheist.”
“Well, hopefully in whatever afterlife he ended up in, he’s still running around being a weirdo,” my son said.
“And maybe he’ll finally find out what ‘Station to Station’ was all about,” I said
“Or if he got the bad afterlife, he’s probably annoying the crap out of the devil right now. ‘Stop singing! I have no idea what you’re talking about!'” My son said. We laughed.
So here, at the end, it seems appropriate to me to focus on the beginning. Check out the song below. I’m a man, so obviously it never makes me cry, but I’ll admit it does put a lump in my throat and make my eyes sting a little bit whenever I hear it.
My prayers go out for his soul, and for his family.