Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Been a subdued sad sort of a day. Once I woke up and heard the news about the loss of David Bowie I spent the day on the edge of tears. Something about his death hit me in a way that none of the recent deaths of the famous have done.

The last time I reacted to the death of a musician it was when Freddie Mercury, lead singer of the band Queen, passed on from AIDS. The day Freddie died my youngest child was a mere four months old and I was trying to prepare for a week long visit from my in laws and mourning at the same time. Terrible week pretending everything was normal, but inside I was saddened almost to the point of tears every day. I'd been a huge Queen fan since buying the album Queen II in the summer of 1974.

That time frame was a point in my life where the music and artists had the deepest and most profound affect on my day to day life. I was quite ill in the mid-70s, having had a tumor removed and in the last gasp before my awful childhood asthma went into remission. I went to a lot of concerts in those days and my favorite artists I listened to religiously were Queen, Mott the Hoople, Bowie, The Who and Deep Purple. Others came and went but that bunch was the soundtrack of my days. I've seen all those artists perform live in the 70s in New Orleans.

It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times, but their music got me through those days. Apparently I'm not the only one deeply touched by the music of the time. Earlier today my dear friend Cindy Kunsman posted a piece written by Dwayne Walker about The Who's movie "Tommy" and how the movie relates to survivor wars and trauma. I can see that. I remember the summer of 1975 where I had the soundtrack to "Tommy" on my turntable the entire summer. As someone that was sexually abused as a child that movie is one of my favorites because it shows the possible outcome of the secrets we keep and the things we repress.

While I never followed the life and news of David Bowie with the same obsessiveness I did that of Freddie Mercury and the guys in Mott the Hoople one my favorite memories of him was at the memorial concert celebrating the life of Freddie. He dropped to his knee and recited The Lord's Prayer between songs. I remember being blown away by this because prayer was definitely not rock n' roll cool. Only David Bowie, iconoclast breaker of rules and boundaries, could get away with something so out of place at a rock concert. It also gave me a tiny glimpse into the kind and decent man that lurked just behind the perfectly tailored suits and cool hairstyles.

Bowie gave me hope in my teens that not fitting in, that following your own inner beat, was not only okay, it was freeing on so many levels. For many of us it was our first exposure to a sexuality beyond  the established gender roles of the time. Bowie straddled that line between masculine and feminine in a time when people not gender-norm weren't everywhere. He really was like a man from Mars showing up.

After coming out of a evangelical charismatic church I no longer believe in the Christian constructs of heaven and hell like they've been taught by the church universal. But I do believe that there is an existence after death. The only comfort I take in the loss of this visionary artist is knowing that out there in the great beyond Freddie Mercury, John Lennon and Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson were waiting for Bowie. I pray he is at peace and in a place well beyond pain.

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