Losing a ‘great’ gives us the chance to reflect on moments when their music, performance, or images made an impression on us or helped shape the way we think and view the world. But with David Bowie its more than that for me, I feel really sad today that he has been lost to us.
He came into my life via my brother, Chris. I’ve posted a photo here of his bedroom wall in 1983 when I was 12 years old (that’s not me in the picture!). He was obsessed. If this was what his wall was like, imagine the sound that rocked through the thin wall into my bedroom every day!
In the early 1990’s I managed to get tickets to see him in Milton Keynes, it was fairly obvious who I should take with me. Me and Chris drove to Milton Keynes the night before the gig and queued all night long to be into the arena first. When the gates opened we ran across the arena and got prime position squished against the barrier by the stage. Hey, we were young!
I remember seeing Bowie with his son at the side of the stage cheering the warmup acts, a nice touch I thought. Onstage I will never forget his sheer magnetism and versatility. You always knew you were watching someone who was unique.
Yet when you look beyond the uniqueness of his talent I think there’s lessons for us from his life too, even for me as your MP.
Coincidentally I was listening to Bowie last night, his 2013 song ‘Where Are We Now?’. How modern it is. He may of shaped the 70’s but he wasn’t trapped in it. When you listen to that or the album he released last week there’s no inkling of someone who’s music is stuck in the 70’s or 80’s, even when the song is reminiscing about his own past the style is pointing to the future. He always seemed unsentimental about the past and always excited about the future. Listening to and collaborating with new people; respecting and learning from upcoming generations. It enabled him to put his experience to use whilst celebrating what’s new and fresh and challenging to us today. There’s definitely a lesson to politicians like me in there!
Like Kate Bush, Bowie also seemed to get more comfortable in his own skin as he aged too. Putting his values, his art, before commercial concerns. Considering how his flamboyant use of make-up and imagery defined an era he noticeably avoided the temptations of cosmetic surgery which made him even more powerful and attractive. He, like Kate Bush, are proof that ageing can be a powerful and beautiful process if you let it be so.
David Bowie was one of the people I’d have loved so much to meet. Even though I didn’t he definitely had an impact on me, and maybe that’s why I find his passing such a sad moment.
Have you got a Bowie story? I’d love to hear. All the best, Peter