Thoughts on Bowie

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My heart hurts a little now every time I hear Space Oddity. It was the first Bowie song I fell in love with and the first thing I thought to put on in my delirious state on Monday when I heard the news.

 News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in. News guy wept and told us, earth was really dying. 

A friend had texted me the news and in disbelief I checked the internet to be certain it was true. Then I shot off a sad text to another childhood/teenagehood close friend, my first Bowie buddy to make sure she knew and to bond in the sadness.

Denial and anger and all the stages of grief overwhelmed me as I got up and stumbled sobbing through my morning routine. I had to get to school early for a teacher meeting and it was bitter cold out and David Bowie was dead. This was the day my nightmares are made of, and it was the day before I turned 27. What a terrible birthday gift.

I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

Now I never knew Bowie the man so this might seem ridiculous to you but I knew Bowie the artist through his films and music. I loved him. He was/is my number one artist.

To give you an idea of how much he means, all my adorable caring students were worried I wouldn’t be at work when they heard the news. “Poor Callaghan.” I told them being at school with them was a good place to mourn a great artist. My kids know, like me, what it was life to “freak out in a Moonage Daydream.” They offered hugs and condolences. A colleague said she considered picking up a sympathy card for me. At an art school full of Bowie fans, somehow I was the one everyone knew would be devastated. In a way it showed me how fortunate I am to work with such great teachers and students.

Oh no love! you’re not alone
You’re watching yourself but you’re too unfair
You got your head all tangled up but if I could only make you care
Oh no love! you’re not alone
No matter what or who you’ve been
No matter when or where you’ve seen
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain
You’re not alone

Bowie had always been in my life, from hearing his music as a kid to growing to love it all as an adult. I felt “Under Pressure” during finals in college, jammed good with Weird and Gilly, and when my grandmother passed away I listened to “Rock and Roll Suicide” on repeat and it helped me with the pain somehow.

Like most 80s and 90s children, my first real introduction to Bowie was at the age of 11 watching Jim Henson’s film Labyrinth. 

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Dance Magic Dance. Best scene in the film.

Like most kids, it was a coming of age film for me in which I realized that I, like Sarah was growing up. The Goblin King was the highlight of the film for me in the umpteen times my siblings and I watched and re-watched it, singing Dance Magic Dance to each other.

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That hair though. Backdrop leftover from the Low album photoshoot?

 

Yes Bowie was Goblin King of the weird, wild, and wonderful. The Spaceman who showed us it was ok to be a bit strange, a bit of an outsider. A weirdo if you will. To harness out creativity to create something new and different. His music and films brought joy to many and with his passing we all felt that loss. As a man he was as flawed as we are but as an artist his influence was wondrous. Many of my favorite artists would probably not exits were it not for him. I dare say my own artistic undertakings take inspiration from him.

I couldn’t begin to pick a favorite Bowie era. (Or Maybe I can. It’s Ziggy Stardust with Diamond Dogs, German Period Bowie, and Thin White Duke Bowie coming in second, third, and fourth).

Is it nice in your snow storm, freezing your brain?
Do you think that your face looks the same?
Then let it be, it’s all I ever wanted
It’s a street with a deal, and a taste
It’s got claws, it’s got me, it’s got you …

All this week, I had been feeling like no unicorns existed in the world anymore. It felt like a bit of color was gone and I felt like either the Last Unicorn herself or even Schmendrick. But by talking with others and going to various Bowie events and memorials, I’ve realized I’m not alone. We are all star people and unicorns carrying on the legacy and inspiration. And we will share the memories with the next generations. Sitting our future offspring down to watch the Goblin King cavort and to listen to the plight of Major Tom.

I’m not a prophet or a stone-age man
Just a mortal with the potential of a superman
I’m living on

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My cousin and I at the “David Bowie Is” touring exhibit.

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