I didn’t like anything other than classical music until I discovered Bowie. In the confines of my childhood room, I went along with him on the genre-defying ride that was his music, from the high gnome song to the space oddities of Major Tom, to the Berlin trilogy that grew on me over the years, and to even the industrial days of a heart’s filthy lesson, and the later, heathen days. My favorites are still rooted in the Aladdin Sane and my guilty pleasure is still Ziggy. I remember being exuberantly happy when he sang of the next day, and then eagerly looking forward to Lazarus.
As often is the case in our times, the music and the musician becomes a single entity. I wondered at his songwriting talent, I adored his crooked teeth on the covers of Ziggy Stardust. I liberally borrowed from so many of his songs when courting the hyacinth.
I knew less positive things too, having come across them here and there over the years. I have vague knowledge about the fact that he was addicted to drugs and that he lived on peppers and milk and cocaine during a period of his life. I know he has a daughter. I knew of his collaborations with other artists. I wouldn’t have discovered Queen if not for Under Pressure. I watched Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, and The Prestige, and Bastiat, and A Man who fell to earth etc because of his involvement.
There is the mystery that media outlets like to talk about. In a world where there is a choice to embrace a lack of privacy, his decision to go the other way has fascinated journalists. I was reading obituary articles and one of the major questions without closure that many cared about was if he had slept with Mick Jagger.
It is hard to pick a favourite from the collection. I think it might be the Sweet Thing/Candidate pair, overall. A favourite memory, though, would be the hyacinth singing Rebel, Rebel to me, despite dire threats.
I didn’t know the man, but I am grieving nonetheless. This week has been difficult to get through. Sunday night, I was listening to the new album released on his birthday, and singing along with him in a weird mix of Nadsat and Polari about where the fuck did Monday go? He did not see that Monday.
It is hard to write in the past-tense.