By now we’ve all heard the news: David Bowie died earlier today from cancer.
And though our favorite artist kept the news of his terminal diagnosis a secret from all but his inner circle, he did not allow it to keep him from entering a new genre (jazz) for his last album, Blackstar, released Friday.
We all know that was his birthday. We all know the critics love the album, and we all know that a copy can no longer be found anywhere. At this point in the day there is little we don’t know about this global superstar.
So we’ll focus on Bowie’s influence on Pub.
Pub first heard Space Oddity as a scrawny 6-year-old back in 1969 while riding (unbuckled) in the front bucket seat of her favorite aunt’s sports car. Aunt Martha was great, still is. She would blast the latest rock hits from car radio, which unlike Pub’s parents, had an FM option.
They’d sing along to Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” and Dusty Springfield’s “Son a Preacher Man.” Still a Pub favorite. Pub had no idea what those lyrics meant, but she enjoyed the quality time with an adult who had no parental control on her.
One day “Space Oddity” came through the speakers and she did understand the lyrics, or she thought she did. A man on a space mission lost communication with earth and would be lost in space forever.
Even the musical score was eerie. Could that really happen? Could astronauts be trapped in space forever because of a mechanical failure. Are there people floating around up there never to see their families again?
“Space Oddity” frightened Pub to the point that Aunt Martha was quick to change the radio station whenever it played.
The name David Bowie meant little to Pub, a devoted David Cassidy fan, at the time. But his hits kept coming and her curiosity was piqued during a babysitting stint in 1976. Or was it ’77.
Either way,the young couple, probably Aunt Martha’s age, had a sleek sound system, in that they did not have a “record player” but a “turn table.” Wow! They also had rows of carefully alphabetized albums nearby. Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin.
“Make yourself at home,” Mr. Gray said, as he explained the fancy controls of his sound system, which included a set of bulky headphones. Pub did after the kids were asleep.
Of the hundreds of choices, Pub decided on DAVIDONEBOWIE, a compilation of the artist’s early hits. She skipped the scary first cut, “Space Oddity, and opted to try out the second. “John, I’m only Dancing,” sold her. Bearing the biggest headphones in the world, she dancing around the Gray’s family room as much as the headphone cord would allow. She loved that song and still does. It’s so upbeat and fun with an element of mystery. Why does John care who David is dancing with? There’s a story there somewhere.
Pub was always available whenever the Grays needed childcare. Once those boys were down, she was dancing to “Jean Genie,” and of course “Suffragette City,” the inspiration for the name of this blog.
One evening, she dared to listen to “Space Oddity.” Was that guy still floating out in space alone? Nothing changed. But then it did. A few days later, when she was nowhere near an audio system. The lyrics were still floating around in her head.
Now it’s time to leave the capsule
if you dare …
Though I’m past
one hundred thousand miles
I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
“Space Oddity” is about taking the leap. Breaking away from those who tell you what to do and when. Setting your own course. Take that first step out of the box and you will miraculously be guided in the right direction.
It is one of Pub’s favorite songs and Bowie one of Pub’s favorite artists. He walked his talk. David Jones stepped out of the box, took risk, followed his passions and by all accounts, led a happy and fulfilled life.
And that’s what “Space Oddity” is all about. Enjoy life while enjoying the ride. No worries. Your spaceship knows which way to go.
“Space Oddity” is played all over the place. Everyone knows it. “John…” is less known, but still a Bowie classic in our opinion, so we’re sharing thuis YouTube version. Feel free to dance!