Tuesday, 12 January 2016

RIP David Bowie - A Starman Under Pressure That Sold The World

And the stars look very different today.

11th January 2016. Starman returned to his home planet.

There aren't adequate words to describe this sense of grief. Anybody in my life will know how much glam rock impacted me. Cut me and I bleed sequins and face paint. My earliest memories are of listening to Queen and T. Rex with my parents, but there was always one androgynous icon that had the edge on them all.

David Bowie. Starman, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, The Thin White Duke.
The master of reinvention, eccentricity and diversity.

Yesterday morning, I woke up bolt upright to hearing my mum outside my bedroom door saying Bowie had passed. I sat frozen to the spot, completely incapable of processing it. When it came to the loss of Lemmy last year, I immediately cried my eyes out, but Bowie was different. I didn't know how to cry, I just found myself stuck in stasis, in flux, in disbelief. I even tried to go back to sleep believing it was all a mental misunderstanding, a cruel psychological trick that my own mind had played on my half-conscious state. It wasn't until I left the room to see his face on the news that it hit me, and at that very moment the tears arrived like a tsunami.

The loss of such an influential icon, not just for British rock music but for international music as a whole, is something that our generation may never recover from. The loss of Lemmy Kilmister mere days before was powerful enough, and the loss of Bowie's contemporary Freddie Mercury even more so, but it seems the loss of Bowie has truly left this earth in the shadow of a mushroom cloud. I'll be making my pilgrimage to his hometown of Brixton when my crowd anxiety will hopefully have waned.

The implied death of Major Tom in 'Space Oddity' is quite possibly the most poignant moment in rock music to date, and I highly doubt it'll ever be topped. The awe-inspiring 'Starman' sent the appeal of rock music through the roof of my childhood bedroom, skilfully putting a twinkle in a very young Ali's eye which never faded, not once. The haunting imagery of 'The Man Who Sold The World' captivated and inspired me to explore all these existential, space age concepts that dreams are made of. The contagious 'Let's Dance' provided a soundtrack to every dwindling 4am when sleep escaped me. The vivid and vivacious 'China Girl' fuelled a political and historical passion that would influence my later educational career. The lingering 'Life On Mars' promised a universe beyond this minor existence, while 'Ashes To Ashes' assured a fitting curtain call to the mortality I'd become so morbidly fascinated by. 'Under Pressure' drew my two favourite vocalists into focus in a passionate plea for change that defined my life day in, day out.


I will forever treasure the memories I have of David Bowie's influence on me. On my 18th birthday, I decided to go out for the night dressed as Aladdin Sane, lightning bolt and all. As I walked into a bar, a resident alcoholic shouted over to me, "Oh look, it's Alice Cooper!". I used to be known as the girl in my college that would never wear anything but Bowie shirts. I always have been and always will be a child of David Robert Jones' astounding influence. I even went to the David Bowie Is... exhibition at the V&A in 2013, and I wrote a few choice words about its lack of direction and appeal, but now in hindsight I feel blessed to have shared the same room as his iconic costumes and even a tissue with his lipstick smeared over it.

This time last year, I was preparing to write my Masters dissertation on Bowie as a historically significant figure for both British and international musical arenas. Soon enough, though, I discovered a multitude of sources that had previously discussed the exact same topic, so I switched to the lesser-credited yet equally responsible icon of Alice Cooper. The truth is, both Alice and Bowie pioneered theatrical rock and roll at almost the same time, with Alice having a mere year or two for a head start, but nevertheless, they're equally as influential to the development of rock and roll from the '60s onwards.

I never wanted to see this day, a day without arguably the most revolutionary musician of the twentieth century. Sleep well, Duke.

If you say run, I'll run with you. If you say hide, we'll hide. Because my love for you would break my heart in two, if you should fall into my arms and tremble like a flower.

Let's dance, for fear your grace should fall. 

Let's dance, for fear tonight is all.


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