Today’s blog is about David Bowie. On the anniversary of his death, how could it not be? Two years have passed (24 months, 104 weeks, 730 days) since we first heard the punch-in-the-guts kick-in-the-testicles news that Bowie had left us, departed our little blue-green planet and headed off to another realm.
I’m not a religious person. I don’t believe in heaven, nirvana, the beyond or wherever it is we supposedly go after we die, but I’d like to think Bowie’s still out there somewhere. He was the Starman, Ziggy Stardust. He was Major Tom “sitting in a tin can far above the world”. He sang about the possibility of life on Mars. If he’s going to be anywhere at all, then surely Bowie’s in space (Flight of the Conchords)
(To see more of the Bowie episode, click here Flight of the Conchords – Bowie)
Flight of the Conchords hit the nail on the head when they called Bowie a “freaky old bastard” because that’s what he was. He was zany and eccentric, an anomaly, an aberration, an original, but that’s what we so loved and admired about him. He was an unpredictable character. Just when we had become familiar with one of his colourful personas, he’d move on, change direction, do something completely and utterly different and daring.
From the start, he seemed fearless and unafraid to do things that weren’t very “rock and roll”. In 1967 he released a completely bonkers novelty single, The Laughing Gnome (which surprised and confounded critics by reaching number 6 on the charts, but which I, perversely, rather liked). Years later, he teamed up with old American crooner, Bing Crosby, to record a Christmas song (Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth). Somehow, despite having vastly different musical styles, their duet worked. When it came to Bowie, it seemed that we should learn to expect the unexpected!
Bowie was a trendsetter and trailblazer in fashion too. His many different personas and looks were like nothing we had seen before, unique, iconic, frequently bizarre and outrageous, but undeniably hugely influential on the pop culture of the time.
Aside from as music, he was a half decent thespian too, showing a flair for acting in comedy cameos (in TV show Extras and the movie Zoolander) and in a diverse and eclectic mix of roles in movies including The Man Who Fell To Earth, Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence, the Elephant Man, and a personal favourite of mine, quirky 80s movie, Labyrinth (Magic Dance) (really, who other than Bowie could have made the goblin king so damn sexy and beguiling?)
He seemed like a decent man too: he was a philanthropist, a supporter of charity organisations, an outspoken opponent of racism (once calling out MTV for not playing the music of black artists). He was no saint and didn’t profess to be. He was always simply and unapologetically himself. People who knew him talk about his amazing sense of humour and how funny he was. Certainly, he didn’t seem to take life or himself too seriously. When water was discovered on Mars, for instance (suggesting the possibility of life on the Red Planet), Bowie contributed to a tongue-in-cheek article demanding that journalists Stop calling my house about water on Mars!
I find these facets of Bowie’s personality – his humour and his humanity – lovable and endearing, To me, they make him seem almost like an ordinary man, someone you’d be proud to know. Bowie was no mere mortal though. He was a true rock God, a supreme showman, a rare and exceptional talent. I was hugely emotional when I heard he’d passed away, Two years on, the thought of his absence from our world can still bring me to tears. I miss him.