On the way to work this morning I turned on the car radio, a station I sometimes tune into because it plays Bowie, and I was pleasantly surprised to catch the DJ talking about David Bowie. At first I thought Bowie was the topic because of his recent birthday last Friday, and then it hit me that they were talking about him for longer than a birthday tribute warrants, and then the use of the past tense made it clear what had happened. And then I wished I could turn the car around and drive back home.
Bowie was my favorite musical artist growing up – by a long shot. And he still is.
I remember when I first saw him. I believe I was around 11 years old. I was watching a music awards show on TV, and someone appeared on the screen, wearing something that looked like a space suit. He was singing a song that was like no other song I had ever heard – Space Oddity – with its haunting, layered melody. The camera zoomed in on the face of the singer, and I was mesmerized. His different colored eyes, his ethereal, otherworldly features. He looked like someone from another planet. I asked my older brother who this was – and got the answer: David Bowie.
I quickly began collecting his albums – all of them sounded different and I loved every one. The Ziggy album was one of the first. There was something about his voice on these songs that made me feel like he understood me, like I wasn’t alone in this world. His voice still hits me like that.
Unfortunately soon after my fascination with Bowie began, he disappeared from making music for a few years, eventually returning with Let’s Dance. Although I was less a fan of some of his music from this point onward, he would still make many songs that are among my favorites.
It’s hard for me to believe that he is gone from this world. I have spent a very large amount of my life listening to his music. Growing up would have been so much harder for me without Bowie.
Some of my favorite Bowie songs:
Sweet Thing from David Live (1974)
Lady Grinning Soul from Aladdin Sane (1973)
Life on Mars? from Hunky Dory (1972) – but I especially love Bowie performing it in his recent years with Mike Garson at the piano – like he did below in 2005
If I’m Dreaming My Life from ‘Hours…’ (1999)
Slip Away from Heathen (2002)
Teenage Wildlife from Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)