I can’t remember when I fell in love with David Bowie. I think, like many of my generation, it was the Labyrinth movie. I remember my grandmother and especially my mother being quite worried about that film. My mum hated it, LOL. Yet, my sister and I would sit there in awe of Bowie’s crotch bulge and would sing along to Dance Baby Dance and When the World Falls Down.
Music has always been very difficult for me to appreciate. I suspect it has something to do with my dyslexia, I strongly believe it’s an associated dyslexic symptom called, Auditory processing disorder. This means it is difficult for me to differentiate certain sounds from background noise, thus I never listened to music as a youth, nor really liked it as it often sounds like static to me.
One day as a teenager I was sitting in a car and Space Oddity came on the radio, the noise and the voice had me entranced as I could hear it, I asked my mum who it was and she said, “It’s that creep, David Bowie.”
From then on I was stuck. It was the noise that really grabbed me, he makes amazing noises.
Anyway, when I met my partner I was delighted to find out that he also experienced a similar adolescence of loving Bowie despite the disdain of his own mother. (I think it’s the whole apparent *OMG SO Shocking!!!* bi / homosexual thing?) My partner really got me into music, I didn’t start listen to it all the time until I moved out with him at twenty, since Bowie has been an daily feature of my life.
When I was later going through my Dionysian study period: where I spent two years eating book after book about mysteries and Dionysos, Bowie was the music I read too. It was here I started seeing connections between his work and the subjects I was reading. I wrote this in 2013:
“David Bowie in the persona of Ziggy Stardust. In the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Bowie takes on a sexually ambiguous, alien persona who wishes to bring message of peace and love, ultimately he is torn apart by his enlightened fans, which causes a greater revelation…”
… sounds pretty Dionysian. Then we have further elements like his backgrounds in performance of mime as well as adopting differing personalities throughout his lifetime as Pierrot and Harlequin and also adventures into theatre and movie performance.
Just even with the evolution of the personas of Bowie, he developed different characters for each phase of his music giving us a new take on the enigma that is David Bowie. I seriously doubt we ever saw who David Jones ever really was in his entire career as a performer.
Despite the changes of characters certain themes always remained, we see elements of Major Tom and Space Oddity throughout his entire lifetime, Ashes to Ashes 1980 discussed what those pills are, then Hallo Spaceboy 1995 continues the tale and then I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship 2002 speaks of an astronaut lost in space shooting of his ‘space gun’ when thinking of his love. Blackstar music video finally features a deified Major Tom? whose skull is used to initiate ecstatic women… forty seven years of a developing a mythos concluding with the same Orphic themes first seen with the persona of Ziggy Stardust. Everything is beautifully linked, a narrative of enlightenment gifted to the world as a whole body of work.
The best thing about Bowie’s motifs are generic enough that anyone can walk away from his work relating to it and feeling the same elation as the next man. It is a long running epic poem mixed with performance…
A gift to mankind.