I spent all weekend listening to David Bowie’s Blackstar, cooing over the black stars that spell out his name and revelling in the much-anticipated brilliance of it all. Then the world woke up on Monday morning to the sadness of his passing – in all its terrible surreality. I snatched a listen to the radio as I was getting dressed. I pumped Hunky Dory through my headphones on the way to work. Anything to feel part of the bigger tapestry. The man in the seat beside me was drinking coffee from a mug. A china mug, on the tube. I laughed inside and thought you maverick and pined for the loss of Bowie.
I remembered how the 14-year-old me had picked her way relentlessly through The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. How Five Years and Strangers When We Meet are the soundtrack to one of my most catalytic friendships. Remembered the euphoria of Nile Rodgers’ Let’s Dance at Glastonbury in 2013. How I’m sure there was a whole summer, even longer ago than all of that, when my brother played nothing but Changes on the stereo, on repeat. Yesterday, everyone was remembering their own Bowie journeys. Yesterday, it was chokingly-poignant to hear his voice and we were all grappling to find the words. For how can you articulate the loss of a thing like Bowie? He was a genius, yes, but genius doesn’t quite seem to fit the gap. It needs something more. Something as colossal as the loss. Something big enough to fill the sky and touch the moon and come tumbling back to earth – shrugging its shoulders, as if nothing had happened. I read somewhere that it’s harder to inspire happiness than melancholy through art – harder still to do it an artistically beautiful way. Bowie did that – and will go on doing that – repeatedly.
Thank you, is all I can think to say. Bowie, I’m so sad you’re gone. I’m sorry you had to know mortality and I’m in awe of your sublime parting note. Our lives are so much the richer for having had you in them. Oh, to capture just one drop of all the ecstasy that swept that afternoon. To paint that love upon a white balloon and fly it from the top-est of all the tops.