For many, David Bowie was their musical messiah, the man who saved their world, though he appeared not to be from ours.
Upon his death a few weeks ago, countless fans took to social media to express their grief over his loss. Each seemed to tell a similar story - though they’d never met Bowie, they all felt a closeness to the person who, through his immeasurable talent, spoke to them on a level that no other artist could. It’s quite remarkable, the impact that Bowie had on so many young lives over a 40-year period. So it’s no wonder that there are so many books out there about Ziggy and all his incarnations. And it just so happens that the one I chose to read and review was told by a longtime fan who just also happens to be a music journalist. These are his words, posted on his Facebook page:
“I’ve talked to everyone who ever knew him. I traveled to Brixton to see the home he was born in and Bromley to see the home he grew up in. Berlin to see the home he lived in with Iggy Pop. I followed the paths he took through life but he was fleet and I was cold, tired, befuddled… a biographer. I got a lot of money to figure out someone who spent his life eluding people like me and felt like I was writing a book report on a very pretty and slim Sasquatch. I was lost. My editor and publisher knew it. There is no definitive David Bowie book. No definitive David Bowie album or film or painting or idea… that is the point of David Bowie. Define him or attempt to at your own risk. The only parts of the book that I felt were true were parts most critics hated: the interludes between the hard reported and diligent (yes I know there were typos) classical sections. The parts where I talk about being a fan. A biographer is supposed to breast their cards and not reveal their fan boyishness, even though every biographer if they are not already fans, become superfans as they go (even the writers of hatchet pieces). More than fans, some kind of neglected spouses. So with apologies and condolences to Iman (and so many more people, his son, his daughter, his first wife Angie, who is a friend and a generous soul) the only way I can describe my emotions this morning is to say I feel oddly widowed. I’m only going to write biographies of people who are already dead: Doris Kearns Goodwin style. I am certainly speechless: I just turned down a bunch of prestigious interviews to talk about him because I didn’t trust what would come off my tongue and I barely trust what’s coming from my fingers now. Sorry. I can say that I have loved songs, I have loved cities, I have loved women and I have loved or at least abided by family but I have never loved anyone or anything as long and as unwaveringly as I have loved David Bowie. Where are those eyes now? Who can think about them? Screwed up, two different colors. Are they closed forever? Are they strung out in Heaven’s high or do they gaze out over Hunger City, watching as the world burns? Urgh, I’m thinking about what I’m writing now. It’s better to be raw, and real for as long as it lasts. It’s better to take the punch in the face. His music will heal but it’s better to hurt. This morning anyway. And for as long as it takes. Then, as he might applaud, move on to the next thing, the new thing. "Bye bye. We love you."
There’s no need for me to say another word about this book. Just read it.