I woke up today with David Bowie’s music in my head. I always wake up with music in my head, and perhaps I had inadvertently heard the news before I feel asleep late last night, but I woke up listening to “Golden Years” as I aroused this morning at 7am. I rolled over and looked at my phone, as I always (and probably shouldn’t) do, and there it was, the master of the mystery and stars had passed away after a long, silent, and private illness. I’m not quite sure what I have to say about this loss. I’ve been mulling it over all day long, through fits of gratitude and tears. I’m grateful that I lived when David Bowie was present and making music. And I’m quite happy to say that I am lucky enough to actually understand who and what Ziggy Stardust was and what that persona meant to this world.
All day long, I have had David Bowie’s music in my head. “Changes” and, yes, “Lazarus,” what he left us with to remember him by. I ran errands this morning and Sirius Classic Vinyl had dedicated a whole day to the man and his music. As they should.
I remember that once, many years ago, I was listening to Casey Kasem talk about music. He said, “Music is the history of our lives.” If that is not true, I don’t know what is. My belief is that music surrounds us and envelops us and grinds into our whole beings in a way that most people can’t or don’t even fathom. There are times when a Gerry Rafferty song comes on the radio and I’m immediately whisked back to a moment where I am in the back of a my father’s ugly, robins-egg blue station wagon, with my two brothers, driving to my Uncle Russell’s camp in Eagle River, Wisconsin, for a week, or a weekend, in the wilderness to fish and hike and live a simpler life.
I’m remembering seeing U2, with my hoped-to-be boyfriend in college, when the “streets had no name,” as we drank Iron City and made out in the back of the theater.
And then there’s Rhiannon, who “rings like a bell in the night, and wouldn’t you love to love her.” Junior high and High School, and all of that mess.
Today, I listen to everything under the sun. Mostly Miles Davis and Townes Van Zandt and anything that is easily digested while I’m writing or reading. It’s how I get through the day. It’s how I imaginably write about life and love and grief. It’s how I live through and in this world.
I will miss the oddness, the spirit, the eyes that my niece shares with him. I will miss how loving his music made me feel better when I was a kid trying to figure out the world in all its madness (and my friends too, as they confessed on social media today what David Bowie has meant to their lives). I will miss how I always rocked out when Bowie came on the radio and, how I always paused for a small second to check in. And honestly, how did we not all stop and think about these words, just for one small minute. Because, you know, life is always changing…
I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.
Can’t even imagine the world without your words.