I’m fucking gutted.
David Bowie was so deeply woven into our culture that I – and a lot of us, I think – took him for granted. He had always been there and would always be here. He was a fact of life. Like the sun. Or Christmas. His amazing body of work had ensured his immortality long ago, and had basically become wallpaper. By which I mean incredibly awesome and colorful wallpaper that you’ve had for decades and is part of your home so you don’t always think about it, but every so often you’re sitting in your living room and you look at the wallpaper and think, ‘Man, I really do love that wallpaper.’
That wallpaper was ‘Suffragette City’ in a bar in Moscow, Idaho, where a friend and I had been drinking all day and I don’t think I’d ever been that hammered before in my twenty-three years of life, and somehow we still managed to play pool. I have no idea how we got home.
That wallpaper was ‘Space Oddity’ on the car radio as one of my dearest high school friends and I drove down the road towards my house and childishly changed the lyrics to ‘shitting in a tin can’ and giggled like idiots.
That wallpaper was Jareth, the Goblin King. My first celebrity crush, at age 7.
That wallpaper was ‘Let’s Dance’ at a wedding in 2011, where I danced with the man who would become my husband, and I realised then, as I sang along to the lines, ‘and if you say run, I’ll run with you,’ that he was the person I wanted to spend my life with.
That wallpaper was the BBC footage of him performing ‘Starman’, and (my favorite bit) that awkward kid in the rainbow jumper dancing in the background, staring off into space – in that moment unaware of his small place in music history.
That wallpaper was the radio programme about Bowie’s music and influences that we listened to this past weekend. ‘He hasn’t died, has he?’ I asked, only half seriously. ‘No, it’s to celebrate his birthday,’ my husband said.
This morning I listened to ‘Life on Mars?’ as I got dressed for work, and his voice lifted up in that beautiful way it does on the word ‘sailors’, and suddenly there were tears in my eyes and I let out a little sob. I don’t remember ever being so sad and upset about the death of a musician. It was comforting just knowing he was around, part of the wallpaper.
Now he’s gone. But he will always be here.