January 13, 2016 // etc.· life
Today, I read David Bowie’s Vanity Fair Proust Questionnaire, and I couldn’t help but smile. The answers were just so quintessentially Bowie. For instance:
Which living person do you most admire? Elvis.
Who are your heroes in real life? The consumer.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? While in New York, tolerance. Outside of New York, intolerance.
What is the trait you most deplore in others? Talent.
Unlike many 90s girls, my introduction to Bowie was not Jareth the Goblin King from Labyrinth. Nope, it was “Under Pressure.” You see, I grew up listening to a steady diet of Queen’s Greatest Hits, Paul Simon, Alanis Morisette and NSync. Then, of course, there was the high school period of wanting to be a music journalist/groupie, devouring NME and Spin magazines and discovering the Todd Haynes film Velvet Goldmine (based loosely on Bowie’s life, but he wanted nothing to do with it). Needless to say, I went through a bit of a glam rock phase, and Bowie, of course, was at the center of it all.
Not to be a total dork about it, but Bowie and his music had a profound influence on me growing up. I was a desperately uncool kid who wanted nothing more than to be cool. Yet here was a man who was, by all accounts, a misfit, and somehow defined cool by his very being. He was a pioneer, an alien rock god sent to us from the stars, and I loved every bit of it. He gave me hope, and god knows that’s something we all need to get through high school.
Around this time last year, I waited two hours in subzero temperatures and snow for tickets to the “David Bowie Is” exhibit on its last day… and got tickets for the very last entry time.
The entire exhibit is synced up to music, piped into pairs of individual headphones. It was “Life on Mars” that got me, my favorite Bowie song (with “Rebel Rebel” coming in a very close second). “Hunky Dory” is probably my favorite Bowie album, too.
Anyway, I stood there, listening to this beautiful song, reading this man’s beautiful, hand-written lyrics, and I started crying. Just straight up misty eyed, which is so not cool to admit, crying over a museum exhibit about a rockstar. But that’s how much he meant to me — and not just me, but millions of people around the world.
I got hit with a similar feeling I read the news Monday, but much more…sinking. I was on my way to work, and I gasped. Reacted visibly on the bus, like someone close to me had died. I guess in a way, he was close to me, though I never knew him personally, of course. And I always thought Bowie was one of those rock stars who would live forever. I’m rather selfishly upset to be proven wrong about that.
This has all been said before. I’m definitely not the first to write about David Bowie and his impact on me, and I definitely won’t be the last. Because he meant something to a lot of us, and I hope he meant something to you, too. Watch Labyrinth. Watch The Breakfast Club (Ally Sheedy is the one who first shared the opening “Changes” lyric with director John Hughes). Listen to the below playlist. Remember Ziggy, remember Aladdin Sane…and remember David Jones, the boy from Brixton.
Because my love for you…would break my heart in two….
Rest in peace, you pretty thing.
Gif: Helen Green