For some reason, it feels terribly selfish to post something about me on my blog about someone else’s death. I try not to write anything to personal on my blog these days and prefer to share drawings, comics, lists, films and songs I’ve enjoyed but I’m breaking my rule for one day.
I woke up this morning and the first thing that Paul said, before I even turned over or opened my eyes properly was: “Bowie’s dead.” I thought it was a joke but sadly not.
I don’t really get effected much by celebrity deaths. Every death is a tragedy and, of course, the icons of our time that pass will be missed but I always try and take a pragmatic approach. Why would anyone want to know what I thought about these people? Celebrities and icons lead amazing lives, the internet doesn’t need another ‘RIP’ post. I don’t want to add to the noise online, I feel guilty for doing so. I feel selfish. But today is different.
I feel sad today. I can’t lie. I just do. It’s heart warming to read all the RIP posts on my timeline, so much more than usual. I’ve read as many stories as I can about friends’ ‘first Bowie experiences’, posts about their favourite songs and so on. They’re sharing moments in time that mean something to them and all these individual moments are knitted together by one man’s music. How incredible! How amazing! To have an emotional effect on millions throughout decades of your brief existence on Earth is quite profound.
So, it’s hard not to think to my own experiences and my ‘first time’. I’ll admit, I’m not the hugest Bowie fan (as in not a fanatical or ‘collect all the records’ kind of fan). He’s bloody great of course and I have favourite songs and remember him from films like Labyrinth. I was an 80s child and this film freaked me out in all the best ways.
But it’s Bowie’s ‘China Girl’ that was my first ever experience of Bowie. I’m talking about first, very first, earliest, youngest memory ever of music! And when I remember that, that is quite extraordinary. I was born in 1983, the same year as Bowie’s album ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘China Girl’ was the second track on this album. My Dad was a keen DIY home video enthusiast and made a video of my birth, later doing another for my brother four years later.
A black screen followed by the phrase ‘A Star Is Born’ appears in heavy pixelated font and then the first moments my Dad captured in my youth are edited in. It’s a loving Fatherly tribute to my birth and it makes me smile to think about this now. ‘China Girl’ was always a song that I associate with my earliest years, this video (the track appears on the VHS) and my Dad.
My Dad is Chinese and my Mum is Scottish and although I spent a good part of my early life despising being mixed race for various reasons, I’ve learned to accept myself. I’m older, I’m more comfortable in my skin and no one gives a damn about ethnicity. Well, the good folks anyways.
I hated that ‘China Girl’ was a song that I associated with my Dad but now it takes on a different meaning. My family no longer speak to me, which has been a painful experience and one I’m slowly coming to terms with and so I’m learning to hold on to the better memories and this is one of them. In fact, some of my happier memories with my family are filtered through music – ‘China Girl’ being one of the earliest.
And so, after writing this, I’m going to pick myself up and turn it around. It’s always sad when someone leaves us forever but we’re so lucky to have enjoyed Bowie’s music and creativity. He’s given people so much, he’s coloured our memories, soundtracked periods of our lives and influenced the creative world. I’m going to continue to read the lovely tributes and listen to his music all day today. What an extraordinary legacy Bowie has left behind. Awe inspiring in fact.
David Bowie will forever be the brightest of all Blackstars and a true Hero to us all.
RIP David Bowie