It was the abrupt nature of the news, following the unmentioned cancer, and because he was so enduring - I'd actually predicted he would headline Glastonbury this year following the new album release that turned out to be his final words, and was cursing my luck even more at being abroad and missing the tickets boat again.
However while last Monday began grimmer than most January weeks ever could, it actually became rosier as the day continued, with wall-to-wall Bowie tracks on BBC6, a monsoon of memories and commemoration online, and just going through all my albums, photos and video clips, all work plans shelved.
By the end of the week, however, I'd consumed so many similarly worded tribute pieces as to have reached saturation point, a feeling nailed by David Baddiel who tweeted on Friday:
So that's what I did this weekend, on life moments soundtracked by particular Bowie tracks - some obvious, some not so - and a small handful of photos of or related to him, one of which I framed and hung on my dining room wall on NYE, ten days before his death.
Not born until 1978, with the Heroes album still in the chart, I missed out on the 70s & early 80s glory years, my first visual record of David being the evil goblin king Jareth in Jim Henson's Labyrinth in 1986, the scene I remember the most his threatening to hurl a dwarf into the bog of eternal stench.
My first musical memory wasn't to arrive until a year later, at the outset of my MTV-watching days in 1987: a song that remains in my top five despite not registering on many others' radars. It was the title track of his album Never Let Me Down released that year, and one I later found out was the least successful single from it, failing to enter the top 10 in any country (#34 its highest UK position).
To this day I'm not sure why it wasn't so well received, as it was one of David's personal favourites and the sepia video wasn't that bad. Ok, it's not the best Bowie song musically but the minor-key verse melody and chromatic chord sequence were always compelling to my ears, and entrenched by those early years of musical awakening.
It remains in my top five to this day: its funked-up Niles Rodgers vibes, the chorus guitar wail and jazzy trumpet solo, all slightly at odds with the painful lyrical content, inspired me to make a mashup tribute video last year marrying it with the video for Pink Floyd's own obscurer single, Learning to Fly, after I noticed it fit Floyd's video thematically and pretty much frame for frame.
Don't pick fights with the bullies or the cads, cos I'm not much cop at punching other people's dads
And if the homework brings you down then we'll throw it on the fire and take the car downtown
Also on the album was Andy Warhol, and being a big metal fan I instantly recognised its opening acoustic riff, nicked by James Hetfield for Metallica's Master of Puppets (+ their album track title Leper Messiah lifted from Ziggy Stardust). It was a phenomenon that occurred in reverse the more of Bowie's older material I listened to, something verified by his 70s bassist in the BBC documentary Five Years - Dave wasn't afraid of nicking stuff for his own songs, the most flagrant example to my ears being Queen Bitch's purloining of Eddie Cochran's Three Steps To Heaven. Despite this, however, his flawless rendition of the track on Old Grey Whistle Test is one of the best I've ever seen, he and Mick Ronson absolutely smashing it:
Those two LPs alone highlighted for me the epic range in his output, evolving from the jaunty music-hall of Did You Ever Have a Dream to the industrial rock-out of Dead Man Walking, another two of my favourites (and I stand by Bowie's biographer David Buckley in finding The Laughing Gnome "a supremely catchy children's song" rather than NME's "embarrassing example of Bowie juvenalia" write-off).
For me it was an apotheosis, his effortless nailing of that track followed by a characteristically insouciant interview with Jools as if that were an average performance, and then he played an equally spellbinding reworked version of The Man Who Sold the World which appeared as a B-side to previous single Strangers When We Meet. I just remember feeling slightly sorry for Oasis who had to follow all that with their stock rock, which shrivelled in comparison.
For the rest of my days I'll have to content myself with live footage and memories of televised performances, my favourite of each (barring the Jools clip) being these airings of Ashes To Ashes & Ziggy Stardust, both adding a new magic to the originals, something many other artists struggle to emulate with theirs.
It was also funny being reminded last week of Dave's stance on Nirvana's unplugged cover of TMWST: "kids that come up afterwards and say, 'It's cool you're doing a Nirvana song'. And I think, 'Fuck you, you little tosser!'". I always thought that was a bit unbecoming of him to say something like that, but then I remembered Kurt explicitly mentioning after the final note, "That was a David Bowie song", so for youngsters to still miss that then the reaction's a bit more understandable.
And of course there was 'Ultimate Bowie', the tribute act who appeared on Stars in Their Eyes no less - I saw them at Latitude 2013, funnily enough with my Australian mate Bryce who I started hanging out with only because he looked a bit like Bowie, an attribute he later grew weary of being reminded about:
From now on I'll be diversifying my Bowie range when DJing: dropped the customary Let's Dance on NYE, and have usually veered towards the collaborations at other times - Under Pressure & Dancing in the Street - which often go down better. Haven't yet listened to all of Blackstar - something to look forward to - but still return to 2013's The Next Day, my favourite number from that release being the stonking bonus track I'll Take You There, available only on the collector's edition:
As tempting as it is to find another way of reiterating what other tributes have concluded with - end of an era, the ultimate singer-songwriter, won't be another, etc - I'd prefer to leave it on that note.
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