Emerging from the guestroom at my best friend’s house in South Knoxville, I reached for the damn smart phone to cease the digital cavalry call to get up and get over the Great Smoky Mountains. Another curious weekend in The Marble City, another impending workweek at my feet.
It was in that moment I read a text sent to me overnight. “David Bowie passed away,” it simply stated. “Are you f**kin’ kidding me?” I shouted to myself in an empty house.
Bowie. Ziggy Stardust. The essence of cool. The king of originality. The high prince of avant-garde art. The immortal being of creative pursuit. He had more career phases than Miles Davis, resurrected Lou Reed, scared parents, mesmerized youth eternal, and overtook the music industry with a brand of sound and attitude unseen before and unmatched ever since — the Pied Piper of all that is wild and free for better part of the last 50 years.
The first thing that popped into my mind when I heard of his jettison from this earth was being in a New York bar in the fall of 2009. I was there with my (now ex) girlfriend. She was the only girl I could safely say in conversation that I truly loved. And she was a Bowie freak, which was one of the many reasons I was crazy about her. She’d light up like a firework bursting into the sky when I’d throw a couple dollars into the jukebox and select some Bowie. Dancing around the pool table, she’d smile at me, in such a pure and captivating way, that I knew then to make sure to never forget “this” moment.
And yet, when I woke to turn my alarm off Monday morning, I had to shake myself out of the odd dream I had of her that previous night. I hadn’t thought of her in awhile, but there she was, in my subconscious. Crossing paths in some bar. The backdrop was fuzzy, her face crystal clear. I don’t remember what we talked about. I do remember, though, how happy I was to see her again. And, from all accounts, the feeling was mutual. Then, I shot out of my slumber, and reached for my phone, only to hear of Bowie’s demise.
That was (or is) the beauty of Bowie. His music always seemed to be the soundtrack for moments worth framing and hanging on the walls of your memory. What came first, the chicken or the egg? What came first, the fun times with Bowie on the stereo or Bowie on the stereo stoking the fire in our souls to roll out the red carpet for all that is irresponsible enlightenment?
Bowie gave us the ticket to the greatest ride one could ever imagine — our own. He showed us you can do and be whatever you want to be, that if you don’t like the existence you reside in — day in and day out — then you can change that, change it all, and finally become the honest truth you see(k) looking back you in the mirror.
Personally? His passing comes at a crossroads in my own life. Over the past year, I’ve been wrestling with my own identity. Although I’ve tied up all the loose ends in my soul about who I truly am, and what it is I want to achieve, there has been this restless vibration coursing through my veins, physically and emotionally.
Sometimes I feel as if my feet are stuck in concrete as I try to reach and thrust towards the bright lights of my destiny. I don’t want stability. I want endless pursuit, of whatever the hell it is I’m searching for. Heading east on Interstate 40, the sun rose slowly through the frozen sky above Southern Appalachia. With Knoxville in the rearview mirror, I pushed the pedal down and tightened my grip on the steering wheel.
Bowie echoed from the old truck speakers, his melodies running across the radio dial Monday in remembrance like the shooting star that he was. He was a rebel. He was an alien. He was from another planet, and time, a place we all hope to step foot into. And that world of his was the notion that anything is possible, time is infinite, and each second on that ticking clock is another moment to set humanity ablaze with your glorious heart and soul.
I feel something awakening within me. A renewed sense of purpose set forth by the man who said in an interview once, “Life, I love life, very much indeed.” David Bowie may be gone from his mortal body, but his aura resonates in all of us today.
And as his classic hit “Heroes” spilled into my ears this morning, I can’t help but sing along to his words of hope and determination, a justified sense that we can make tomorrow surely better than today, where all is not lost, and all is gained when the directional arrow is pointed up and into outer space, “We could steal time, just for one day, we could be heroes, forever and ever…”
1 The Cut Cocktail Lounge (Sylva) will host Bird In Hand (Americana) and Ol’ Dirty Bathtub (Americana) at 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16.
2 A chocolate and beer pairing will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21 at Heinzelmannchen Brewing in Sylva.
3 Tipping Point Brewery (Waynesville) will host Scott Low (singer-songwriter) at 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15.
4 The production of the Nora Ephron play “Love Loss and What I Wore” will take place at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15-16 and 3 p.m. Jan. 17 at the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville.
5 Lazy Hiker Brewing (Franklin) will host Heidi Holton (blues/folk) at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16.