We lost a great musical icon on January 10th, 2016. This post is dedicated to David Bowie, who changed the look and feel of music forever. May he rest in peace.
My first encounter with the magic of David Bowie’s music was transcending and in a very literal way. I can remember the date and where I was and who I was with. The power of that song went beyond words and into an outer worldly experience.
It was March 7, 1973 and I was sixteen years old. My friend was keeping me company that evening because my mother had to be rushed to the hospital hours earlier while I was still in school. It had been a weird day. My stomach had felt nervous the entire time, as if I had a premonition that something was off kilter. Walking home from the bus stop, just as I was about to turn into my driveway, our dear neighbor Marie Arciprete called me up to her house. As she sat me down over a snack, she told me that my father had come home from an errand to find my mother on the floor and that she’d been taken to the hospital.
Later when I let myself into the house, I saw books in disarray on the bookshelf and things turned over as if she had tried to get to the bed but couldn’t make it. I was glad when Paula came over to keep me company and distract me from the intense worry I was feeling. We played Yahtzee on the dining room table. The stereo was set on what was then the teen hit station 99X FM (NYC). Music played, dice was rolling, and then this song came on that was both eerie and transfixing all at once. It was “Space Odyssey” by David Bowie (Ground Control to Major Tom). I knew neither the singer or the name of the song. It was the first time I’d ever heard it.
The song was the emotional equivalent of what I was feeling deep in my subconscious. It was about an astronaut all alone in space, losing contact with the world. In that moment, I felt beyond words that I was losing my mother. She was leaving me. Leaving this earth. Separating from the family ship. The music was so spine tingling in relationship to what was going on.
My mother died early that next morning. I never saw her in the hospital. I never said goodbye. No hugs. Mom untethered from me forever.
It took me a long time to be able to listen to that song again. I’m connected with “Space Odyssey” in a very uncanny way. Every time I hear it, the music weeps into my soul and all over again, I feel my mother floating off without me. And now in his time, David Bowie has untethered from this earth. As we all will.
“For here am I floating in my tin can. Far above the world. Planet earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.” Space Odyssey by David Bowie