Tuesday, January 12, 2016
The news Monday of David Bowie's transfiguration hit hard- especially for those of us "of a certain age." He was such a cool guy; he didn't want us to worry, but I doubt he realized how soul wrenching his death would be and how unexpected- like a comet crashing in the back yard. All day I heard the stories on NPR... That he was a musician mostly because he was a failed artist, and he learned early on that girls would look at him if he just opened his mouth and sang. Laughing in an old interview, he mentioned he must have ADD because he was always onto the next project. That he didn't really like performing; he quickly grew bored doing the same songs over and over.
The one story I didn't hear was that the "Man Who Fell to Earth" once landed, strangely enough, in our own back yard on a couch in Silver Spring, Maryland. That's right. His very first trip to America was to Washington D.C. Not on tour, mind you, but before all that... At a rock forum a few years ago hosted by Jeff Krulik, I heard another local treasure, journalist Michael Oberman tell the story.
I heard simply this: that when David came for a visit, Michael and his buddies had to entertain this weird kid from England... Sound a little far fetched? Except there's this Kodak moment. That's Michael waving. (The "real" story has been updated on Michael's FB page here.)
Hard to believe this man we knew as David Bowie could be so down to earth. Seemed like he always had one foot in the sky, and while he was here, he was constantly challenging the norm. I heard Chris Hadfield on the radio late last night while I was doing laundry. (Yeah, I'm one of those people with radios on all over the house.) Chris is the Canadian astronaut that recorded Space Oddity in the freaking Space Station no less. And David Bowie loved it. In an interview yesterday, Chris pointed out how the song captured not the excitement of the moon launch which the whole world was buzzing about that summer of 1969, but just how excruciatingly lonely it would feel to be the only human being "floating in a tin can, far above the world."
It is hard to say good bye to a comet. A man who shared his light with everyone - especially those of us who felt a little bit lost and out of place at school, at church or even at home. He was our hero, he was our rebel; he was a gas. All of us Earth oddities wandering this planet together will dearly miss the man who brought us Ziggy, Major Tom and "All the Young Dudes." He is on to the next thing now, but wherever he is, I hope he's not alone. I hope he has found a place among the stars where he belongs.