Like countless people across the world, I was shocked by Monday’s morning’s news. David Bowie was a beacon of hope, of possibilities, for me and countless others. My life would not have taken the same course without him. My son is the same age as Lexi, David and Iman’s daughter, and my heart goes out to her, especially.
In a strange way, when the news came around 6.30am, it was not a shock. David Bowie had sent us the message; we simply had to decipher it. I wrote in the close of Starman about his amazing disappearing act, the Houdini escape. I could never have realised, of course, how this would be so tragically, magnificently concluded.
Lazarus, at the New York Theatre Work Shop, and Blackstar, both made art of the Starman’s latest, most profound adventure. They both look to his next incarnation – and his past.
I’m sure I will write more about this at some point; it’s already been pointed out that Blackstar references Elvis, born on 8 January (his song Black Star tells us “when a man sees his black star, he knows his time has come) , as well as referring to our own Starman.
To all the complex web of allusions, I’d add one more. My book was titled Starman for it was this song that, more than any other, signified the yearning for transcendence that powered the life of David Jones. As well as transcendence, the song also contains comforting nostalgia via its ravishing lift of the song Somewhere Over The Rainbow – or even the British Second World War anthem The White Cliffs of Dover (“there’ll be blue birds over, the white cliffs of Dover.”) It was this reference that caused Sounds to dismiss the Ziggy album as “the work of a competent plagiarist” that sounded like “hip Vera Lynn.”
Now our Bluebird has flown, for as Lazarus tells us, “I’ll be free just like that Bluebird.”
Farewell, brave voyager.
Postscript: My apologies to anyone who’ s contacted me the last couple of days, to whom I haven’t replied – I’ve tried to go through every single one, but am sure some have dropped through the cracks.
Incidentally, if you haven’t read Starman, it’s being serialised in this week’s Times, 12-16 January.