I love the word ‘stardust’. I collect songs and books and writing that has the word ‘stardust’ in it. I collect stardust. I love the Japanese word for it too -星屑- hoshikuzu. Stardust is at once ephemeral and eternal. It refers to the dust material between stars -fleeting and transient. It also refers to stars that are so faraway that they appear to us like sparkling dust – eternal and immortal. Of course, it is also the dreamy, sentimental, naive and romantic feeling. I’ve always felt like David Bowie was made of stardust. And I love him.
I was at work when I saw the first tweets saying that David Bowie has died. I dismissed them as a hoax; he just released an album 2 days ago and I haven’t even listened to it fully. How can he be dead? Then I ran off to meetings and came back a few hours later to realise that it was devastatingly true. Disbelief and then denial. I was numb. I spent the next few hours mindlessly reading the tributes and articles that were starting to pour in. It really sank in only a while later. The reactions of those around me were why was I upset as I didn’t know him. No one is to blame for that reaction of course; because David Bowie was my very precious secret.
I have never told anyone or spoken about him or shared his music with anyone. I don’t have a reason for it and it wasn’t intentional. The opportunity to talk about him or his music just never arose.
The very first Bowie song I heard was “Heroes”; but this was before I knew anything about Bowie and even when I heard “Heroes” it was because it came up on YouTube. Instant classic of a song, isn’t it? You only have to hear it once and it never leaves you. But for me it was just another fantastic song. I really did not ‘meet’ Bowie till I saw and heard Space Oddity a few days later. It was like a light going off in my head.
‘Woah! This music is so jarring! The way he says ‘Major Tom’ is really weird yet kind of hot! Wait? This is a story-song? What is he wearing? The music is really different. Like nothing I’ve ever heard before. That is some fabulous sparkly gold eye-shadow and lipstick!!! He is so smiley. He is really enjoying this!! Wait, Major Tom!! Oh no, it has gone all sad now! Ah it is over. WHAT WAS THAT? What did I just see?’
The music was so different and weird. David Bowie was looking so weird! But he looked so happy in that live performance. He kept smiling and was really enjoying himself. All this together struck a chord with me!
I have always been out of sync with my peers and those around me. Always in love with the ‘wrong’ things. I loved books. In high-school I didn’t watch/like the Tamil movies everyone watched and had absolutely no interest in boys or gossip. This lack of interest in boys and gossip and me ever not having a crush on someone followed me into college. While I never faced any bullying or anything bad like that, the fact remained that if I wanted to be included I had to like Tamil movies and boys. I tried but I really couldn’t. I used to spend my days in the chemistry lab. That was brilliant fun because my professor was brilliant and we would do interesting and out-of-curriculum experiments. I spent one evening melting old keys in concentrated nitric acid. But I digress. I was always falling in love with weird things – the Australian cricket team, anime, Japan. Oh I also was an atheist; which is a very difficult thing to be in a society built on religion like mine. Atheism was a concept I had figured out for myself (it really is rare here and I’ve meet only one person who is as much of an atheist as myself) and I couldn’t compromise on it.
I didn’t mind being by myself. I really don’t have the need to talk to someone all the time. But I couldn’t help noticing that I was different in that sense and maybe that was wrong. I was getting sick of all the ‘oh you like THAT?’ comments and ‘why can’t you be more talkative?’, ‘why can’t you gossip?’ questions. It made me believe that my lack of interest in what was considered ‘normal’ like boys and my introvert personality were the things that were wrong and needed to be fixed. So, on came the masks and the vague answers. I couldn’t like what everyone else liked; but I could keep what I liked hidden. It had its merits but it also made me feel alone.
When I saw Space Oddity for the first time, apart from the music, what really struck me was how comfortably and openly weird Bowie was. It felt like he didn’t care what people thought about his weirdness. He was happy doing what he truly wanted to do. He was exactly the hero I was searching for. He made me realise that there was nothing wrong with being different, with not fitting in, that there are people everywhere who don’t fit in and that was just fine. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off me. I didn’t start being a super extrovert and completely open about myself or anything. I still wear masks; still give vague answers about myself depending on where I am. Being shy and introverted are parts of me that are still big. But over the years I have become more open about all my likes. To any weird looks I’ve gotten, I’ve been able to raise a silent eyebrow. Most importantly, I’m at peace with myself – who I am and what I like.
Reading through the tributes, I came across a tweet that said each of us met David Bowie at different times and we all found a different man, someone whom we needed. I feel that this is accurate. I met Bowie at a time when I was confused, angry and sad mostly at myself for being different – and meeting him when I did helped me come to terms with it all. For me, David Bowie, his uncompromising and fearless approach to what he wanted to do and the absolutely decent and exemplary way he lived his life are an endless inspiration. His music is my refuge and my clarion call to the world saying ‘this is me.’
Thank you for everything, Starman. I will always love you.
Hmmm…this has somehow turned into heavy introspective waffling about myself rather than Bowie. So without further ado, here are my favourite Bowie songs and moments!
Space Oddity – This was the very first video of Bowie I watched!
This live performance is just beyond words! He is so charismatic and I love how smiley he is, having fun!
No explanations required!!!! I absolutely love Bowie’s finish of the song!!!
I love to sing this song out loud!
Two favourite songs!
Hehe i love this little clip!!! He is so cute when he laughs! Also I covet that earring!