Monday, 11 January 2016

We could be heroes

A week ago, I’d have said I wasn’t a David Bowie fan. I loved a lot of his records, dismissed some of them, felt a bit proud about walking out of a Tin Machine gig.

Today, I just want to say “Fuck”. And be with people who understand. (Which means, going on Facebook.)

And not listen to people who don’t understand. I don’t want to hear what Paul Gambaccini has to say. I don’t want to hear what anyone has to say except maybe Tony Visconti. I don’t want to listen to radio programmes. I don’t want the tributes and the pre-packaged obituaries and the bandwagon jumpers.

I nearly didn’t write this, because it’s just more noise. (There were 3.1 million #DavidBowie tweets when I last looked.)

But… “I had to phone someone, so I picked on you…”

That’s from Starman, of course: one of the first records I ever bought. I remember, aged 14, walking up a smalltown street in my smalltown school uniform singing it. It’s hard to disentangle all the mythology. Everyone goes on about the Bowie/Ronson thing on Top of the Pops and how radical it was, but I don’t remember that.

I just remember the music being extraordinary, and embracing it. I absorbed it, because I was at the age – and in a time – where you expected pop music to be extraordinary.

For a few golden years, everything Bowie released was extraordinary, and an event, and we took that privilege for granted. We expected it.

It wasn’t about being “fans”, because that would imply that Bowie was just another pop star. He stood outside all that. He just was.

One day, Bowie stopped being extraordinary, and other things happened that were extraordinary in a different way, and I lost interest. But those records from the early/mid 70s were always there.

(There were other records to love, later, intermittent bursts of genius: we all have our own view which ones count. But that’s just music.)

Pete Wylie wrote on Twitter: “For Liverpool music to survive and grow in the 70s, we HAD to reject the Beatles. And so David Bowie became our guiding light, and we grew!”

That’s what it feels like. He was ours, like nothing that had happened before. Ever since, every new friend you’ve met who was the same age, you knew they were part of it, or it was part of them.

Now he doesn't belong to us any more. He belongs to the commentators and the newsreaders and Twitter. And I don’t believe in crying over dead people you’ve never met but the video to Lazarus is up there with Hurt as a “dying legend swansong” and it says it all.

And now I’m going to listen to Heroes and All The Young Dudes and Life on Mars?, and time will disappear and I’ll be back in the age of the extraordinary.

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