Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tattoo Number Five

Today I went and got my latest tattoo. Number five, the David Bowie tattoo.

Story time. I dreamed that one day I would get to see David Bowie perform. I wanted to spend any amount of money necessary to see him and, if at all possible, meet him in person.

At that point, I would be an obnoxious fan and spout all about how much I loved his music and how much it meant to me, yada yada, the same old stuff he's heard all the time. And then I wanted his autograph. My plan was to have him sign my body and have a tattoo artist go over it later.

Obviously that is no longer an option. So I went to my usual shop (Fallen Owl Tattoo) and told them that I needed an artist to forge an autograph. The owner (who did my first two tattoos, the first when he was just getting started as a tattooist) recommended his newest hire, Jim, who was also a DB fan.

Jim and I discussed the tattoo and changed things around a few times, but we finally came up with the right one. It consists of DB's (forged) autograph, a song quote, and a black star.

I explained the autograph. The black star is, of course, for the last album he left us, Blackstar.

The song quote is "I'm screaming that I'm gonna be living on till the end of time." It is from the song Never Get Old on the album Reality.

I knew I wanted a song quote, but I had to mull over it for a while before I decided. I had it narrowed it down to this one, "I'm never ever gonna get old" from the same song, and "I'll never let you down" from the song Never Let You Down from the album of the same title. (I had considered SOOO many more than just these three, but these were my top contenders.)

I wanted a quote of significance that fit the situation. I thought about doing something from Blackstar as the last songs he gave us, but nothing struck me, possibly because it is still too new. Never Let Me Down was released the year I was born and it is one of my favorite albums, so that is significant to me. I also loved Heathen, Hunky Dory, ...hours and Reality. Heathen, Hunky Dory, and ...hours didn't have a song or a quote that really fit the situation, so I ended up turning to Reality which had several possibilities.

Once I had this quote picked out, it was the one I kept going back to. I would wake up thinking about it. I knew that was the one I needed to get. Plus, that is how DB was to me: immortal. Part of me honestly thought that he would defy the test of time and live forever. And I hoped that he would. It's hard to see your heroes die.

So in honor of David Bowie. You and your music has meant the world to me. In fact, it is hard to imagine a world without you in it, continuing to make music. You will be so, so missed, especially in my world. RIP.

Monday, January 11, 2016

An Ode to Bowie

I have spent the last couple of days listening to Blackstar and getting ready to release a blog post about the songs and my reflections.

And I don't have the heart to anymore.

For anyone who hasn't heard (and I imagine most people heard very quickly), David Bowie died early this morning, January 11th, 2016. Just 3 days after his 69th birthday and the release of his album. (I also read that it happened late on January 10, 2016. I guess the date doesn't matter so much though. Not to me, anyway.)

I am heartbroken. And it feels a little surreal. Part of me thought (and hoped) that he would just go on living forever.

This was a hard hit for me for so many reasons.

As a younger member of his fan base, I never got the chance to see him perform. And it was one of my very greatest wishes to do so. I promised myself that if he ever toured again, I would break the bank and do whatever I needed to do to make sure that I got a good ticket and (if possible) a back stage pass. I was willing to travel to do this. And I always said that if I could see him perform, even just once, and meet him (no matter how brief), that I could die happy. That's a pretty big deal to be letting go right now.

I discovered DB when I watched Labyrinth the first time. I must have been 12 or 13 at the time. Later, I rediscovered it and fell in love with the music performed by this weird man who was more popular than I thought he could ever be. I convinced my mom to buy the Labyrinth sound track followed by the first 3 DB albums I ever heard: Let's Dance, Young American, and Aladdin Sane. These sustained me for a year or so. Heathen came out or had recently been released during this time, and I remember my mom bringing that one home and I instantly fell in love with it. Then Reality was released. I still remember the day my mom picked me up from school with the CD playing to surprise me.

It was during the Reality tour that, in Germany, DB had a little heart attack which stopped his tour. After that, he did almost no more performing at all and didn't release another album for 10 years. By the time that Reality was released, I don't think I even had gotten my driver's license yet, so you can see why I've never had the opportunity to see him.

In general, I am not overly impressed with celebrities. And while I may be a fan or find some of them talented or attractive, I am never so in awe that I forget they are human. Except for DB. He inspired that awe in me. And to me, he was not human, but a god. He was my idol. The one that I admired and thought so much of that he was raised in status above a mere human.

And why is that?

Frankly, I don't know. My love of DB has never been something that I hid or felt shy about, but my level of devotion is also not shared by most people that I know, even among those who like him.

The connection that I feel with DB is something that has been very personal and a little strange. He is exactly the type of person I would usually dislike. I disapproved of most of his life and the choices he made. Despite the fact that he and I seem like polar opposites, I cannot help but love his music.

Another thing that people assume about my love for DB: that there is something sexual about it. While I will admit that he is and was always attractive, I feel that more objectively than personally. I think that he aged well and became handsome and that his looks were always unique and intriguing. But I think any implication of it being somehow sexual is creepy. Yes, I love DB, no, I never had any even remote desire to sleep with him. I imagine that feeling is not shared by all of his fanbase though.

His music meant so much to me. There is something about his songs that speak to me and draw me in and become so meaningful to me. It is a very personal connection that I feel with his songs and that can't really be shared with someone else. Sometimes I think that, when I listen to his songs in the company of others, that we are not even hearing the same song. His music strikes me on a different level, and I think his song writing was amazingly brilliant. How can someone so different from me who writes songs for himself and his personas speak directly to my soul? We are so different, but I think that he is (was) just that amazing.

I think that he was inspiring. He has always been such an advocate for being yourself and being an individual. I think striving to be yourself is always a worthwhile goal and that influenced me, too.

I suppose the worst part is knowing that this is it. There will never be another album, another song. I won't ever buy another brand new CD and pop it in and feel elated at hearing the familiar sound of his voice while relishing in the new sound of his music. That was the best thing about new songs. I always felt such a jolt of happiness hearing that voice. Something old and something new all at once. It was always a little bit magical for me. And I'm sad that I won't have that again. Blackstar was my last chance.

Anyway, this has hit me hard and I have been crying since the moment I read the second or third article (I couldn't believe the first). And my heart goes out to his family, who I have also fallen in love with.

I'm absolutely devastated. I feel like a part of me has been lost. Is that pathetic? I don't think I realized how tightly I had bound myself to DB until now.

Rest in peace, DB. Your loss will be felt so deeply.

"Never mind the stares. 'If I'm going to do something that could be provocative or artistically relevant, I have to be prepared to put myself in a place where I feel unsafe, not completely in control. I have no fear of failure whatsoever, because often out of that uncertainty something is salvaged, something that is worthwhile comes about. There is no progress without failure. And each failure is a lesson learned. Unnecessary failures are the ones where an artist tries to second guess an audience's taste, and little comes out of that situation except a kind of inward humiliation.'"~David Bowie

If anyone is interested, here are most of my DB posts from the past. The first one meant the most to me.
David Bowie and Me 
David Bowie's "The Next Day" 
David Bowie and Other Oddaments 
A David Bowie Birthday 
Random David Bowie Post 
There are others, but these were the more important ones.