Oh, hell’s bells, no.
Waking up on a Monday morning to find that David Bowie – who only days ago, literally, was causing a splash with a new album – has died at the age of 69, of cancer, fucking cancer, yet again, is not the way to start any self-respecting week. It kicks the guts out of life, it opens up a great big hollow, and makes you wonder why you ever get out of bed.
And it’s not even as if I was ever a great Bowie fan myself. But I was there, throughout the Seventies,through all the great singles and albums, I was there when he was proving to be one of the most fascinating musicians around.
From ‘Starman’ on Top of the Pops – yes, I saw that legendary first performance though I didn’t get the same transgressive charge from it as others, perhaps because I didn’t watch it in the face of parental disgust – to ‘Blue Jean’ in 1984, the last of his singles that I really took note of, it was a dozen years where Bowie, whatever you may have thought of any particular phase, was undoubtedly the most important musical artist around.
Bowie was the Pathfinder, the Wayfarer, always attuned to where music was about to go and getting there a couple of years ahead of everybody else. It was more than uncanny, it was like a superpower.
Then the power left him, and he began to drift out of cultural importance, never to regain that beyond-the-cutting-edge sharpness.
But he had been there, and like him or not he had led, and the loss of him creates a massive hole in the world. There’s never been anyone like him and there never will again, and his leaving takes away something that we need in our heads.
If I have to choose one Bowie song to salute him, this is the obvious one.