It was only four months ago that I wrote this blog about my family’s trip to Melbourne for David Bowie is…, the spectacular Bowie exhibition at Federation Square.
For some reason, it seems like so long ago now. It’s still hard to fathom that only 16 weeks after I spent more than two hours immersed in the incredible legacy of this singularly unique individual, the world is now without him.
On the day of his death, but before it was known, ‘Space Oddity’ came on the radio as it so often does, but for some reason I suddenly realised how sad a song it really is. About an hour later, my wife called me. She was deeply upset and talking in a small voice and when she asked if I had been on the net at all yet, my first thought – for some reason – was that our friend Chris had died. Because that was far and away more likely than the truth: “David Bowie died today.” My wife is the greatest Bowie fan I have ever known, so those four words make up the most difficult sentence she has probably ever spoken. To say that she is devastated is understating things, but even I have been incredibly sad about Bowie’s passing. He was literally part of my life’s soundtrack. ‘Space Oddity’ was released 42 days after I was born. When I started high school and my interest in rock music was piqued, the original version of ‘Cat People (Putting out Fire)’ was all over the radio like a Goth rock plague. Culturally, as a music and entertainment fan, I saw his influence was everywhere. As the exhibition was so keen to point out as often as possible, David Bowie was an all-pervading force of nature who helped to create late-20th century popular culture and launch it into the 21st. He was so far ahead of the game that the others were still playing while he was drying off after a shower and heading to the next thing he wanted to do, and halfway through that before anyone else had started. It seems positively alien that he no longer exists in this world in physical form.
“Singer, musician, song writer, actor, designer, artist, photographer, artfully weaving the influence of whichever Muse he was following at whatever point of his career with his own genius to create works of remarkable originality and lasting relevance.”
That’s how I described Bowie back in October, and that’s how he will always be, perhaps the greatest cultural icon of my lifetime. David Bowie, thanks for everything.