One year on, David Bowie.

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Bowie’s death gutted me. A friend had sent me the news via Facebook message, and I opened it that morning with no idea what it would be. The breath left me, I grabbed at the kitchen counter to slow my collapse as my knees weakened. And I sobbed. The world hadn’t ended, but the man, the rock star, the actor, who meant so much to me was no more.

My first memory of David Bowie was, like so many of my age group (particularly female), that of Jareth the Goblin King, tormenting a youthful Jennifer Connelly. Labyrinth is still a favourite film, but for half a dozen years after watching it often, I had yet to realize that its main villain was anything more than an actor. I was twelve or thirteen when that happened, in the early 90s. I devoured biographies, scoured my city library’s tape and LP collections…. anything I could find. This was pre-Internet, of course.

Once the Internet arrived, one of the first things I searched for was Bowie, using a text-based browser, and coming across a website on Stanford.edu, choosing one picture, a Thin White Duke one, to download (which took ages). That site, The David Bowie File, turned into Teenage Wildlife. Without the Internet, I wouldn’t have found so many other fans, and had so many amazing experiences. I would have been stuck in my hometown, wondering where all the other Bowie fans were. But because of the Internet, and Teenage Wildlife, and the early BowieNet, I know so many others, and am still friends with my first Bowie online friends.

In 1995, I bought 1. Outside, the first Bowie album I’d been able to purchase on release day. Since then, I haven’t missed one. Bowie’s music has been the soundtrack to my life, taking me through childhood, adolescence, and into my mid-thirties. His interests provoked my own, sending me on tangents and down rabbit holes. I credit him with further expanding my literary knowledge.

And there was nothing like a Bowie live show to get the blood rushing, the adrenaline pumping, the delight taking over my entire being. It wasn’t just about the albums, the songs, it was his entire presence. Vancouver on September 6, 1997 was a revelation, the first show of the Earthling tour on its North American leg, and my very first show, age 17. I saw six shows altogether, including two in New York in 2000, one in 2002 in New York again, and two during the Reality tour (in Calgary and Edmonton). If I had a time machine, I’d go back and see many, many more.

It would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday today, and it’s almost the one-year marker of his passing, I am grateful and thankful that he did what he did, shared his creativity and ideas with the world, and made such a mark upon my life.

 

Bowie memories.

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The initial shock of David Bowie’s death is beginning to wear off, and I’ve been listening to a lot of his music, including some old bootlegs from some of the shows I’ve attended.

In 2000, I was in New York for the BowieNet show (and for the other two shows that weekend in June… although the Saturday one didn’t go ahead, due to Bowie having lost his voice). It was brilliant meeting all the people I’d talked to online from BowieNet and Teenage Wildlife, and I burned the candle at both ends.

But what I remember most about Bowie specifically is that during the concert (though which of the two, I can’t recall), after everyone had been waving at him, he looked my way, and I waved, just a small, short bend of the hand, one-two. And he waved back with one finger, one-two. And I laughed, and he grinned.

That’s about as close as I ever got to a ‘fan encounter’ with Bowie. I never met him; I was too nervous to even consider it, and at that time in my life, very shy. But just thinking about that moment still makes me smile. Bowie had that absolute gift of making each person feel special, and in that instant, when his gaze met mine, and he saw me, it was enough.

One of the greatest artistic influences ever. David Bowie.

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David Bowie has died.

I barely have words to explain how much I am grieving, but I will try.

I first became aware of David Bowie when I watched the film Labyrinth. I was six, maybe seven years old, and it became my favourite film. Several years later, as I entered adolescence, I became aware of Bowie as musician, and thus began my love of his work. My teenage years had a Bowie soundtrack: Black Tie White Noise, Buddha of Suburbia, 1. Outside (still my favourite record), and every back catalogue album I could get my hands on in the pre-internet days.

I first saw him in concert in 1997, during the Earthling tour, on September 6, 1997 in Vancouver at the Plaza of Nations. By this point I’d been online and participating in forums, most notably Teenage Wildlife. I met some of my best friends there, and on BowieNet. Because of Bowie, I traveled, met people, and learned a great deal. I saw him six times in concert (1997, 2000 (twice!), 2002, 2004 (twice)). I read books he read, listened to music he listened to… He was a huge influence.

I never met him, but if I could meet him today, I’d say thank you. Thank you, David, for making art for art’s sake, for making films and music, and for being such a huge part of my growing up.

He left a new album, two days before he died. That he could give his fans a last something is why I love him even more.

Music: The Stars (Are Out Tonight)… new David Bowie.

January 8, 2013 was a great day. A musician I’d just about given up on ever releasing a new album announced his first new album in a decade. Even though the single didn’t set me on fire (a bit too mellow for me), I walked around in a haze of new music.

And then, there was the second single release this past week…

This is the Bowie I remember. The song itself has embedded itself in my brain, and I can’t get it out. And the video. Oh the video. Bowie and Tilda Swinton, directed by Floria Sigismondi. A perfect combination.

The full album ‘The Next Day’ is streaming for free on iTunes right now, and it’s released on March 12 (US/Canada).

Happy Birthday, David Bowie!

I’m feeling rather happy this morning, having just heard the news that David Bowie has released a new single, and has a new album forthcoming soon. A perfect way to celebrate his 66th birthday, in my opinion. :)

I’ve listened to the single once, and thus far I like it. I have a feeling it’s one of those songs that will grow on me. I’m really more excited about what else is on the new album…

Articles in The Mirror, Billboard.

ETA: Bowie is even in the iTunes Canada chart! #1 in Albums! :)

 

TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME

I just picked up (or rather, UPS shipped me, from Amazon) the Ziggy Stardust 40th Anniversary LP/DVD-Audio edition, and I am in heaven. ZS was the first Bowie album I owned (on CD, the Rykodisc version) and it’s always been a favourite of mine. The only way to listen to it is to put it on from Five Years and listen all the way through till the end of Rock N’ Roll Suicide. If I had to choose a favourite track or two, it’d be Moonage Daydream, and Rock N’ Roll Suicide. This is one of Bowie’s albums where I don’t have a song I skip over.

My precious.

Yes, I am a Bowie geek. Need a listen? Check out the streaming of the album on NME.

If you need me, I’ll be listening to Ziggy.

My Teenage (Book) Crush

Inspired by this post over at The Awl, I thought about the books I read as a teen, and which ones I had absolute crushes on, and which ones I would be embarrassed by today. Surprisingly, there wasn’t too much cringing from my past reads, far less than I’d expected. Here’s a sampling:

  • Anne Rice: The Witching Hour – I’m afraid there’s still no embarrassment here. Read it when I was 12 and I still love it today. I was never as fond of the sequels (Lasher & Taltos), as the character of Rowan began to disappoint me.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley: The Mists of Avalon – Definitely had a crush and loved Morgaine, but I haven’t picked this one up in eons, though it sits patiently on my bookshelf still. But embarrassed? Not especially.
  • Bram Stoker: Dracula – I still have a crush on this book, though I’m not reading it wide-eyed as I was when I was nine. (That scene where Dracula forces Mina to drink his blood was compelling: ‘The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten’s nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink.’)
  • All the Drizzt Do’Urden books by R.A. Salvatore – I suppose if anything was going to be embarrassing, these books would be the ones. I have most of them still in paperback, but like The Mists of Avalon, they’ve sat untouched for years. It’s some nostalgic bit of me that can’t give them up just yet.
  • Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged – Every once in a while I cringe at having read this book, but I do still like it. I don’t take it seriously, and I certainly wouldn’t pull a Greenspan and base actual economics off of it, but some of the imagery sticks in my mind: ‘Her face was made of angular planes, the shape of her mouth clear-cut, a sensual mouth held closed with inflexible precision.’
  • Peter & Leni Gillman: Alias David Bowie – This biography (written in the mid-80s) and other Bowie bios were ones I inhaled as a teen. The library had a whole stock, and most of them were not that well written and relied heavily on rumour. Alias focused more on the mental illness in the Jones family, and it was rather intrusive. This is definitely a cringe-worthy selection.
  • Anya Seton: Katherine – Historical fiction about Katherine Swynford, the mistress of John of Gaunt. Nope, sorry, can’t feel embarrassed about this one either.

Are there any books you feel embarrassed to have read when you were younger? Or are you of the opinion that every book is worthwhile, even if it seems silly years later? I’d love to hear your thoughts.