People are sharing their Bowie memories, and I think that’s a good thing to do…seems as others have said odd to mourn for someone you didn’t know, but as Lauren Laverne said, when someone’s music touches your life for so long, so many decades, it’s bound to make you feel something. I won’t then apologise for harping on about him, since either you get that or you don’t. Just that I suspect he’d probably feel a bit strange yet humbled about all this fuss 😉
I came late to Bowie – one of the first singles I ever bought (well Dad gave the money and I bought it myself) after a-Ha and Spitting Image was ‘Absolute Beginners’ in 1986. A flop film but still a great track. Not the best Bowie, but not the worst, it’s a bit retro for my tastes now but a amazing chorus. And takes me back right there to 1986.
When I got into Bowie proper at art school via Suede and Hunky Dory, I didn’t pick up so much on the queer elements in the 1980’s, as this was ‘straight’ Bowie (well not that publicly bi/queer). But then Suede arrived in 1992 and their inspiration, the glam androgyny of early 70’s Bowie really interested me, as did ‘Buddha of Suburbia’ a bit later with the “Sometimes I fear, that the whole world is queer” line which was playing on the radio. The TV series itself was one of those important pre-coming out lifelines.
So if you asked me, I’d probably say that ‘Life on Mars’ is my favourite Bowie track, although that’s an impossible choice, it’s always just been there, since hearing Hunky Dory many decades ago, and as A Life Aquatic is one of my favourite films, the Seu Jorge cover is brilliance too and reintroduced it back to me.
I think what’s been mostly missing in a lot of the responses I’ve seen is that for gay/queer men, 1970’s Bowie was more than just a pop star…he was visibility, he was camp, he was outrageous and he was out there. And here he was harking back to that, even with a little glam stomp in the middle.
I listened to ‘John, I’m Only Dancing’ earlier, not seen the video with the anchor tattoo. All code, but he knew what he was doing…and yes he more than dabbled, with Lindsay Kemp and others. I wonder how Lindsay is?
Around that time I found a tape secondhand of ‘Ziggy Stardust – The Motion Picture’ which ironically I’ve not seen much of but I know all the songs! The Jaques Brel cover ‘My Death’ was my fave… I loved the ending where the crowd shouts me! me! me! suggesting themselves to be in his place in death. He looks and sounds completely taken aback at this. Humbled. It’s dark, how I like a lot of my music – but oddly appropriate today.