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Dancing on Angels*

January 20, 2016

 

His voice was purple.  How do you explain why a color is your favorite?  Not just picking the one you like best from an assortment.  Your absolute, forever favorite.  The color that sings in your eyes.  That perfect one you want to gulp down and roll around in because it buzzes and takes your attention like no other.  From the time I was young until my dying day, beautiful deep purple is mine.  David Bowie’s voice was the same.  Even when his style changed and I didn’t much like the music, every time he opened his mouth, I stayed for more.

As an annoying teenager, I required my mother to be able to identify, by ear, four singers:  Neil Young (that’s a gimme), James Taylor (she loved his music, too), Jimmy Buffett (he was trickier as I censored much of his catalogue for her, but she liked what she heard), and David Bowie.  Because… Bowie.  He was a master, a wizard, the advance guard with an intoxicating voice and a beautiful face.  But he was not a chameleon, as many including myself have tagged him.  Yes, he changed himself dramatically, drastically, repeatedly, but never to blend in.  No.  Bowie changed and the background changed behind him.  The world was just along for the ride.

Now that singular, inspired, tortured, uplifted spirit has left this world.  David Bowie was so woven into my growing up time that it feels as though some strands of me went with him, one more veil of there-will-be-no-more has fallen over the memory of my youth.   But in his music he has also left to us part of himself, his vision, his struggle.  For all the lonely, disenfranchised youth who found encouragement to be comfortable in their own skins because Bowie showed us how, there can always be another generation finding hope in their darkness there.  I know for a fact that people are realizing only now, through the memorials and playing of his songs, that they’ve always loved his music without even knowing who it was.  So, if someone can fall in love with him for the first time, even now, then he isn’t fully gone.  We need not speak of him in the past tense.  As with long-dead authors of whom we speak in the present because their words still speak to us afresh whenever they are read, he will continue to speak.  In fact, the touring retrospective exhibition, David Bowie is, says just that in its very title.  Still, I’m glad to have seen it when he was alive and working and nearly no one had any idea that he was dying.  It would have been too much for me to know it was an epitaph.  I might not have been able to write this less than a year ago.  We are blessed to live in an age when sound is preserved and readily available, when we aren’t left with renditions and covers of what was irreproducible magic, when I can press Play and David Bowie will sing to me in his own voice as he always has.  Sing on, Starman, sing on.

*And I’m gone
Like I’m dancing on angels
And I’m gone
through a crack in the past
Like a dead man walking

~Dead Man Walking, 1997

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Wanda permalink
    January 24, 2016 15:36

    Very nice, Molly. I hope I won’t be dancing any time soon, but I will remember to think that I am dancing on angels when the time comes.

    • January 24, 2016 15:58

      Thank you, Wanda. Yes, I too hope you won’t be joining the angels anytime soon!

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