A Fond Farewell to David Bowie.
Please note: This article talks about depression and suicide.
Being a Geek means that you have a deep passion for something, that it can take over your life or become so intrinsically entwined with your own being that you cannot imagine a life without this thing. I am a Geek and I have a passion for many things.
This morning the world learnt of the passing of musician, artist and inspiration David Bowie.
What does being a Geek and David Bowie have in common?
The answer is that I am a Geek for David Bowie’s music. I wouldn’t say the man himself because, honestly, as inspiring and interesting his life is (sorry, was) it is his music that touches my soul. David Bowie is such a big part of my life that even my very first post here on Geek Syndicate was inspired by him (and his 80’s bulge)
As I’m writing this I have his back catalogue playing on shuffle and I can feel in almost a physical way his voice and his sound soothing my emotions and helping me, the way it has done for most of my life, to work through my sadness. I’m sitting in my office starting my week’s work, tearing up every few minutes – not just because I know that the man whose music saved me is gone forever – but because said music has that hold over me. It makes me feel things in a way that sometimes I simply cannot, helps me process the emotions and feelings that I do feel but struggle to handle.
As you can see from this post I put on tumblr, my relationship with David Bowie and his music started at a relatively young age. My indoctrination into `classic` bands and musicians had been ongoing since birth and early childhood, I have fond memories of listening to The Beatles White Album in the car on the way to school in the mornings and bands like Lead Zepplin, 10cc and The Who being put on mix tapes for me by my Dad and brother. I remember looking at the album covers of the vinyl records to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, Hunky Dory (one of my favourite Bowie albums) and The Man Who Sold the World, unfortunately these records have since gone walkabout – along with my own collection of vinyl I had started to build.
My personal discovery of Bowie’s music started before I hit my teens true and proper, but once I’d bought that first `Best of` album for my very own I was hooked. Every time I was taken out shopping I would religiously search in every shop I knew that sold CDs, looking for anything Bowie to add to my collection. I even picked up a number of unofficial compilations and, even though I’m not a fan of the genre, club/house remixes of his work. I would hunt for David Bowie music and related items on nearly all my shopping trips – where most girls my age were saving money for fashionable clothes I was hunting the internet for a replica of the Jareth figurine seen oh so briefly in Sarah’s room near the start of Labyrinth. When my friends got their first cars they got Tinkerbell bumper stickers or slightly sweary rear window stickers, I was in a tiny BritRock memorabilia shop in Covent Garden choosing between a Ziggy Star dust album cover car air freshener or a Diamond Dogs one (I went with Ziggy, it smelt like cinnamon) and whilst I was there I picked up an unofficial comic book that covered his life up until the 80’s/90’s, with terrible art and dubious information – I still have it in my comic book collection!
Sure, I may not have read all of the Bowie biographies people have given me over the years but as much as I admired and loved the man it was his music that captured my heart and soul. I was just as passionate about his songs as I was about Star Wars or Lord of the Rings or any other fandom I had become part of – maybe even more passionate about anything else I loved.
Now here is a big confession, something I have told maybe one or two people in my entire life:
Listening to David Bowie’s music saved my life.
I don’t mean `oh, his music changed my life, I don’t know where I would be without it` kind of thing – even though that is also true. I mean in a literal sense, listening to David Bowie’s music stopped me from taking my own life.
I suffer from occasional bouts of depression but throughout my teens and early 20’s I was nearly chronically depressed. It started early, I recall the first time I tried to kill myself – I was only about ten or eleven years old. This is a hard thing for me to tell people and I’m going to hazard a guess and say it will be a hard fact for the people I love to hear. There were certain factors in my life that made me want to end it. Things were happening and I was discovering things about the world that crushed me and made me despair.
I felt (and sometimes still do) that I was unable to feel emotions properly, like the only feelings I had were either anger or a terrible blankness that made feel inhumane and very, very alone.
Nearly every day for years I would come home from school, close my curtains, shut my door and lay in darkness as I played that day’s chosen Bowie album on repeat. My speakers were on my dresser, facing the foot of my bed and as I lay there, eyes closed in the darkness, I would swear I could feel the notes and his voice flowing from my feet all the way up to my head. To me the only way I could feel the spectrum of emotions was when David Bowie would croon his ballads to me; pour out his soul to me, make me angry, happy, sorrowful, full of love and even full of joy and hope for the future. Some of his songs would make me sad and I was able to cry, I could let out everything I was holding inside of me and allow this man, this alien, this Thin White Duke, help me feel like a human being again.
Depression has hung around my shoulders for most of my life. Sometimes it is a heavy weight, like a cloak that covers me whole and blocks out any warmth from reaching me, sometimes it’s so light I forget that it’s there. I used Bowie’s music as a safe place and a safe thing to hold to me and, in essence, keep me sane.
Just over a year ago I got lower than I have done in a long time, I hadn’t felt so depressed and hopeless since the dark period where I was suffering severe PTSD after a car crash when I was 19. One night I suddenly, and with very little warning, crashed; I could not function, I couldn’t stop crying and I’m almost glad I was too down to even move from my bed for hours and hours because I couldn’t stop thinking about going down to the kitchen and getting the sharpest knife I could find and doing… well, doing myself a lot of harm. What I did instead was grab my tablet computer, find Hunky Dory on youtube and put it on repeat; I tucked my tablet next to me in bed and focused as much as I could on the music. It was a comfort to me, music I knew and loved played and Bowie’s voice was like a balm over my suffering. It was not an immediate cure, I called my doctor for an emergency appointment the moment the clock struck 8AM because I knew I needed to talk to someone, but it helps so, so much. Yes, some tracks made me cry harder from the emotional impact they had, but others managed to bring me some hope. They, to me, gave me a message of optimism and I felt like Bowie himself was telling me to go on and not to give up, he was telling me I was going to be ok. He made me feel special.
I know that I am not the only one to have such a strong, personal connection. Many people, like Writer/Director James Gunn, have been opening up about their own experiences of David Bowie’s music. He has touched so many lives and made so many people feel as hopeful and special as I do, he was not just a musician – he was a creative power house and a muse to millions. He inspired so much and so many and he will be so sorely missed.
Even though he was fighting cancer Bowie was creating music and art right until the end. He was giving to the world when so much was being taken away from him. I have personally seem how cancer ravages a body and I know how difficult it is to lose someone you love to the disease, so no matter how sad I am today or how many tears I’ve shed I know it is nothing in comparison to how his family must be feeling.
My love and my thoughts go out to all his friends and family, my sympathy to them and to all who knew him.
I am not a believer in the afterlife, neither heaven nor hell, but the human body is made of star dust and after death we enter the earth and will become star dust once more. I take comfort in this.
Good bye David Bowie. I love you.
Ashes to Ashes, Starman to Stardust.
GS Blogger: Fia / @madame_fifi