Entertainment Music

Wednesday 21 February 2018

My life without Bowie - it's going to be hard

David Bowie in concert in 1983. Photo: Getty
David Bowie in concert in 1983. Photo: Getty

Tom Dunne

I met him once. In a place called the Factory, a rehearsal studio in Dublin, in the early 1990s. He was with Tin Machine then, not his finest moment. We, Something Happens, were just back from a tour and were unaware of his presence. At lunchtime I had ordered a cup of tea in the canteen when a voice beside me said: "And I'll have one and all." I turned to look. It was David Bowie.

I felt dizzy. Standing beside me was the physical embodiment of everything I had ever thought was cool or talented. I struggled to maintain some semblance of my own cool and not throw myself to the ground to kiss his feet and tell him I loved every spiral of his DNA. It wasn't easy.

We made some small talk and then went to different tables with our respective bands. The problem was, if I'd started telling him what he meant to me I might never have stopped.

I could have told him that I used to lie on the front room of my parent's house listening to 'Low' with a speaker against each ear -no headphones then! - and that I had only survived the Leaving Cert because of 'Heroes' and had once worn out a cassette of Ziggy Stardust.

I could have told him that 'Station to Station' had once interrupted a tennis match I was playing, as we put down rackets and drifted to the friend who had a radio to marvel, to stare in silence and to wonder. I could have added that I only survived the worst summer job I ever had because the radio played 'Ashes to Ashes' once an hour.

Or I could have told him about my Leaving Cert Theme tune: 'A New Career in a New Town' from the 'Low' album. How I listened to it before every single exam, both in school and then all the way through college. That the song gave me a sense of the world taking off around me, like a car pulling out onto a big freeway of life, and that I felt it was like my theme tune, my own, personal, secret theme tune.

I guess we all must have had similar Bowie moments, because the standing ovation he received at the Point in 2003 still lives with me. He had just finished 'Life On Mars' when it broke out. I think seeing Bowie at a piano, singing such a timeless classic was just a bit too much for us all. And just when it seemed about to end it went on, again and again, and again.

He was moved. People were crying. I think we just wanted him to know how much we loved him. And maybe perhaps we just thought there would never be a night like it again.

Yesterday was a bad day. A few days earlier - perhaps it was premonition - the lyrics of 'Dollar Days' on the new album had given me food for thought. Bowie sang about the idea of not seeing England again, and being, perhaps, okay with that. It struck me as odd and left me a bit upset. Imagine life without Bowie, I thought. Imagine my life, without David Bowie. It doesn't seem possible.

Irish Independent

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