The Bold Tapestry of David Bowie


 

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I wasn’t cutting edge enough to really get David Bowie, when David Bowie first burst on the scene. His first album (David Bowie) was released in 1967, when I was four. I remember hearing the Beatles; I remember hearing pop music, when I was young, but David Bowie was not played in my mother’s home. When Ziggy Stardust hit the scene, in 1972, I was almost 10. My life was upside down, trying to figure out my parent’s separation and the loss of my father to a cross-country move, on my mother’s part. He would die in 1973, without me having seen him again. When Ziggy burst on the scene, I was too young to buy my own albums, but I recognized creativity, shiny brilliance, and something special, all on my own. My mother was buying John Denver, who I also liked, but I was intrigued by this amazing new “space man.”

To be honest, David Bowie scared me in his early years. He seemed to look out from posters and album covers and shake me– mocking everything I knew. My world was so preppy and fine-tuned (aside from the internal mess of my home life), that his androgynous, vibrant persona and music was the antithesis of everything normal in my world… and that’s what intrigued me. David Bowie let me know that not everyone was straight, and not everyone wore Kelly green and pink whales on their sweaters. David Bowie helped me imagine space in a shocking new way: you could drift away and be lost, but the music would be stellar. His bold hair, his make-up, his unbelievable clothes were part of his artistry, but they opened a new world to this sheltered girl, living in a sheltered New England town. David Bowie introduced me to the exquisite tapestry that life is–– he revealed all of the differences that the world I lived in tried so hard to hide.

Growing up in such a vanilla world, no one was gay, no one was bisexual; the boundaries were clear and not to be pushed. Listening to, seeing Bowie, however, I realized that there was a very different experience out there. His hair, his clothes, the way he looked at his audience, the way he moved his body, screamed: “Break out!” His music exuded sexuality and an edgy, clever vibrancy that made the Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, and the other artists I listened to, pale. I loved their music, but Bowie pushed me to move beyond my safe world and see all the other options out there. In 1977 when David Bowie performed Little Drummer Boy on Bing Cosby’s annual Christmas show (Cosby died one month after filming the show), I was blown away, as my horizons merged and expanded. While my mother coo’ed over Bing, I could not take my eyes off of Bowie. It was the start of a life long crush. The “Peace On Earth,” which David Bowie co-wrote, still gives me chills.

When I went off to college in Boston, I was ready to shed my clean, safe image and explore different colors. David Bowie represented a world of different! Bowie was my “gateway drug;” he led me to most of the music that I came to love, and which still defines so much of how I see myself: The Cure, Depeche Mode, Iggy Pop, Talking Heads. He oozed charisma and I couldn’t look away. The summer I went to Australia, his song Little China Girl was huge. His voice was in my head and on the radio all summer. As I hitchhiked and explored being away from everything that was familiar, my cohorts and I lip synced “Oh baby, just you shut your mouth.” A few years later, on my honeymoon, my husband and I watched the movie Labyrinth, which featured Bowie as Jareth the The Goblin King. It was directed by Jim Henson and produced by George Lucas– a collaboration which seemed unreal at the time. Bowie stole every scene he was in, and left so many of us wishing we could be spirited away too.

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King Jareth in the Labyrinth

As a young mother living in Chicago, David Bowie continued to expand my world. On the fourth of July one year, the space shuttle was orbiting the city in time for the huge fire works display. The local alternative radio station played Space Oddity/Major Tom, and when Bowie’s deep voice counted down, the astronauts greeted us live. It was one of the single most magical nights of my life–– seared in my memory, as I looked up at the black sky, and listened to David Bowie sing! Perhaps the memory holds more beauty––there were no smart phones, video cameras were bulky, but oh to have a recording of that. Ten years after it came out, we introduced Labyrinth to our children, and they still hold it dear and are able to sing along to Magic Dance. Even at young ages, they watched that “strange man” and couldn’t take their eyes off of him.

I didn’t know that David Bowie was sick; I wasn’t paying attention. When a friend posted it, I was sure it was one more “David Bowie is dead” hoax. Like Betty White, Paul McCartney and others who are so big, such a part of our fabric, his death was reported semi-regularly on line, I dismissed it… for a minute. Sadly it was confirmed moments later, by the BBC. I hadn’t seen Jimmy Fallon joke, last week, about the hauntingly beautiful video Lazarus that was released just days ago (the man used his own death for artistic expression!). If he was still aware, I imagine the brilliant artist laughed at Fallon’s playfulness. Discussing his work with Bowie, Johan Renke, who directed the video for Lazarus, said: “One could only dream about collaborating with a mind like that; let alone twice. Intuitive, playful, mysterious and profound… I have no desire to do any more videos knowing the process never ever gets as formidable and fulfilling as this was. I’ve basically touched the sun.”

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David Bowie was beautiful in the most untraditional ways. I was drawn to his whimsy, his edges, his charisma, as much as I was to his piercing eyes and alluring smile. I’ve had a crush on him forever. When I heard that he’d died, I felt my chest tighten and I cried; I felt a thread of my own fabric pulled. It’s a cliché that he will live on in his music, but I carry him in my heart for all the ways he expanded my world and my understanding that people came in so many colors. The world is an infinitely more interesting and diverse place, because David Bowie was in it. Music, art… my life, has lost a sparkling beacon.

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About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
Aside | This entry was posted in Aging, Awareness, Blog, Blogging, Daily Observations, David Bowie, Death, Grief, Honest observations on many things, Life, Memories, Music, My world, Personal change, Tales From the Motherland, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to The Bold Tapestry of David Bowie

  1. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Beautiful tribute, Dawn. The one word that comes to mind when I think of David Bowie is “mesmerizing.” He was one-of-a-kind. That’s for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So personal… yes I do remember seeing friends with David Bowie records that I felt was “dangerous”… but he kept coming inside, and when he released Let’s dance I was there… all in… one of the very first concerts I went to was in Gothenburg 1983 with David capturing a whole stadium in his grip… and he kept coming back. I had just started to listen to his latest record last week and now you listen to every word in his lyric and it becomes totally clear.

    Just wanted to share how Curt Cobain performed one of his song… (two brilliant artists in one performance)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Björn. I never saw him live, but would have loved to! Yes, dangerous… that’s what he seemed, but in a way I wanted to touch. I have long loved this Cobain version… both were brilliant, but Bowie shimmered.

      Like

  3. Carrie Rubin says:

    Such a lovely tribute to the man, Dawn. Many will mourn his passing. And just as his new album was released too (and getting rave reviews). But then again, maybe that’s good timing: new art that lets us appreciate his talent even more. He was a class act for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautifully said. His music will always be a part of my life’s tapestry. We must have grown up nearby in MA, as your description of it could be my own. RIP Spaceman/ Ziggy Stardust.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I grew up in Scituate, MA, but so much of New England is similar, as you know! Thanks for your kind words Susan. I feel so sad about this. Here in Israel, we heard pretty immediately, while much of the US was sleeping… just feeling sad.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Lovely tribute to David Bowie, Dawn. Like your mother, I was not the age that appreciated him the most. I did see Labyrinth though and thought he did an excellent job. —- Suzanne

    Like

  6. rgayer55 says:

    One of my co-workers went to see him in Kansas City during the Ziggy Stardust era. She took a whole photo album of pictures. I remember looking at them and wishing I’d been there.
    Connie and I watched the movie, “The Man Who Fell to Earth” back in the 70s when it first came out. It was at one of those small, independent theaters near campus that didn’t bore you with the latest releases, but were always showing movies from the edge that made you think and question your own values.
    If you haven’t seen that one, I encourage you to find a copy and watch it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Amy Reese says:

    He touched so many, Dawn. He was ahead of his time. I remember first seeing him when I watched him, staying up late with my sister in his ZIggy Stardust years. I thought he was the weirdest and most cool thing ever. This is a beautiful tribute. The world lost someone very special today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Amy. I do feel such a loss. My daughter was telling me that he lived a full life and contributed so much, that it wasn’t a “big tragedy…” and I felt so annoyed. I don’t think many young people can truly appreciate how he changed the way so many of us saw the world. He was still so talented (hell, this new album is amazing!) and cancer stole his years. He really was an amazing human being.

      Like

      • Amy Reese says:

        I’m at a loss, still shocked by it really. I feel like he was taken from us. I think younger generations don’t have anyone that compares…not yet. Maybe they will, but I don’t think so. He was extraordinary. I saw one meme that said something like – at least you got live when David Bowie walked the earth – yeah.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. mamaheidi60 says:

    A well written tribute. I appreciated this especially because I was never as aware of him as you were. I became more aware of his music much later in life. Terrific artist. Thanks for this. From a raised on the Beatles, etc. gal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think David Bowie truly opened the door for people in the LGBT to express themselves, to not feel alone, to come out. He changed the world for so many people who feel different, and was ahead of so many other artists. In addition to that, he was an incredible humanitarian. The new single is just stunning. Thanks for your feedback, Heidi.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. jgroeber says:

    Oh, I loved this Dawn. (How you whipped up such a searingly beautiful tribute that spans so many years in one day, I have no idea…) We call our middle son, the one who prefers very bright (think fire engine red), super skinny jeans and brightly colored shirts our David Bowie. Because right now, he seems bold and bright and free in a (mostly) genderless way. It’s good to have rock gods who have gone before us, breaking down the limitations, and lighting up the night. It reminds us that anything is possible. xo

    Like

    • I think that’s exactly what Bowie did: he told us all that anything, anyone was possible! I showed me that the boundaries of my small world were there to be broken. As for time… we heard about his death, moments after his family announced it, while most of the US was sleeping (morning here). When something hits me, I write most things in a single, manic go. I was shocked that HuffPo featured it… that I didn’t expect in a day. 😉 Thanks Jen; your feedback always makes me smile. xox

      Like

    • PS) I adore that your middleman is that way! Wish we all could hold on to that freedom to be ourselves.

      Like

  10. Well done tribute my friend, how you tied in to different phases of your own life. Very hard when we lose an icon we feel is “ours.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dr. Rex says:

    Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    This is an awesome piece …. another look into David Bowie’s meaning in our social “tapestry”!!

    Like

  12. Pingback: The Bold Tapestry of David Bowie | oshriradhekrishnabole

  13. oshrivastava says:

    very lovely blog,,

    Like

  14. Greetings fellow blogger! In the ‘3 Days 3 Poems Challenge’, nominees shall post 3 different poems (This could be your own, or your favourite ones written by other poets. It doesn’t matter—the only requirement is that all poetry must be accredited unless anonymous.) for 3 days consecutively.

    You are one of my 3 nominees for the challenge today, so I hope you can kindly complete the challenge by enlightening the world with 3 poems!

    Like

  15. Beth Lewis says:

    In addition to being a mesmerizing queer icon, David Bowie was accused of rape and also had a relationship with a young girl, as an adult. Have you read this article? A very good nuanced critique of mourning an icon without idolizing a person who had very real, unforgivable flaws. http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/8969486

    Like

    • Beth thanks for taking the time to read my piece. I’ll check out this link. I would argue that Bowie was FAR more than a “queer icon,” he was an icon to so many, and yes, always mesmerizing. While I haven’t read this article yet, I’ll dig a little. I do like to understand the full view. I’m sure there will be much to digest on David Bowie, now that he is gone. He remains a powerful influence on my life and many others. Thanks again for your feedback.

      Like

  16. Joseph says:

    Wonderful post – truly amazing man

    Like

  17. “David Bowie was beautiful in the most untraditional ways. I was drawn to his whimsy, his edges, his charisma, as much as I was to his piercing eyes and alluring smile. I’ve had a crush on him forever. When I heard that he’d died, I felt my chest tighten and I cried; I felt a thread of my own fabric pulled. It’s a cliché that he will live on in his music, but I carry him in my heart for all the ways he expanded my world and my understanding that people came in so many colors. The world is an infinitely more interesting and diverse place, because David Bowie was in it. Music, art… my life, has lost a sparkling beacon.”

    FINALLY! A few lines written with the heart about my (our) hero. The one and only.

    Thank you.
    Luana/Rome

    Like

    • Thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words, and our shared appreciation for David Bowie. There has been so much written about him, since his death, I’m glad my words resonate for you. Thank you for visiting my blog, and for supporting my work.

      Like

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