"Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same."
– Franz Schubert
This week on the 10th January, 2016, a death happened that created ripples right around the world and caused many people, often much to their own surprise, to find in tears their eyes at the news. So how did a lad who grew up in South London, turn into music legend David Bowie that ended up touching so many hearts in this way?
For me Bowie’s music was always in the background during what I would call my formative years. From the end of the 60s and into the 70s, his music was constantly on the radio and TV. But for me it was Goodbye Major Tom, as I suspect for many people who grew up during the Space Race, that really struck a chord. Back when nearly every child dreamt of being an astronaut, Bowie’s genius somehow captured that wonder of space exploration, something that it’s difficult to put into words, and created a song that pulled at our souls about an astronaut who broke free of his bonds with Earth never to return. And of course it is this song that astronaut Chris Hadfield, with Bowie’s blessing, immortalised with a haunting rendition on the International Space Station, a performance that is now bound to take on even more significance with Bowie’s death.
After this song the next time his music really surfaced again in my life was when I was at art school during the early 80s. Back then the album that was played at every party was Let’s Dance...and we did!
But here’s the strange thing. If you had asked me last week what music had meant a lot to me back then, I would have probably singled out prog rock bands like Pink Floyd and Yes. So you see when I heard about his death via a BBC app that flashed up the news on my phone’s screen, I was saddened, shocked even because he was only 69 and deserved so many more years than he had on this planet, but tears, no. That was until today…
During my early mornings I always try to put aside some time to read, a time to get some headspace, a time to breathe. But this morning was different. I put on his album, the Best of Bowie, 69-74. And within three songs I was captured completely by it, doing nothing else, emotions bubbling up through me until I found tears in my own eyes. You see it wasn’t until that moment that I realised just how woven into my own life Bowie’s music had been. And listening to it felt like looking back at my own personal history, my life, and reliving moments long forgotten moments. Maybe that’s the reason that so many people found tears in their eyes on hearing of his death this week. It felt like the loss of friend who's always been there for you.
But for me Bowie represents an artist that truly made the most of his time upon this earth and his work will live on forever in the human collective consciousness. His work has certainly left footprints in the hearts of many, including mine.
And I can think of no better tribute that to listen to Chris Hadfield's haunting cover of Major Tom performed onboard the ISS.
Farewell Major Tom. Gone, but never forgotten.
These Restless Few:
Humanity – The Overview from Space:
Photo credit: faulty flipflop via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA