It was January 8th, 2016, David Bowie
's 69th birthday and Blackstar
release day. My mom, brother, and I were at The Highline Ballroom, where Holy Holy were paying tribute to the legend by performing The Man Who Sold The World
in its entirety, along with other Bowie songs. On the bass was Tony Visconti, Bowie's longtime producer and collaborator and on the drums was the last surviving member of the original Rise and Fall Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
lineup, Woody Woodmansey. I was standing next to a teenager in the front row who lost his shit during every song
. He was sporting a mohawk and an oversized denim jacket with patches all over it. He danced with abandon, despite the crowd. I pictured his bedroom walls covered with rock posters and collected vinyls. From the passion in his moves and facial expressions, I could tell that Bowie had significantly helped shape him as a person. I wanted to hang out with him in the crowd but was too shy. Two days later, after receiving the news that Bowie had passed away, I thought about this kid a lot. I wondered where he was, what he was doing.
Towards the end of the Holy Holy show, Visconti called Bowie on his cell phone so we could wish him a happy birthday. The audience sang "Happy Birthday" at the top of their lungs. Whether or not Bowie was actually on the other end - which I don't think he was - I was happy it happened either way.
The next day was January 9th, I was back at home for the weekend, going grocery shopping with my mom. Our favorite part about grocery shopping is the car ride. We put on our favorite songs and jam out, and of course, after coming down from a Holy Holy high, we had to spin some Bowie. I put on Ziggy Stardust
's "Five Years" and right after Bowie screamed, "I kiss you, you're beautiful, I want you to walk,"
we rolled up to the parking lot. The song was getting to the best part as Bowie hopelessly screamed, "We've got five years, my brain hurts a lot / We've got five years, that's all we've got,"
so we did what any mother and daughter would do - we sat in the parked car screaming along until the song finished. Time stood still in this moment. My mom loves
Bowie - she's the reason I love him. I always connect them both. We have this ongoing joke that my mom - although not a very good singer - tends to sound like Bowie when she sings one of his songs. It's probably because he's all she listened to. Along with Bowie's voice, I worked my way up to a bigger and better scream. The sentimental love was flowing. Finally, the song was over and everything felt perfect.
One year ago today, January 10th, I was still at home, sleeping in my bed. It was early in the morning, still dark outside, when all of a sudden I heard my dad, the family's early bird, scream from downstairs to wake up my mom. "Honey, David Bowie died!" He sounded astonished. I was half asleep, I laid there for a few minutes thinking I was having a bad dream. A bad dream. That's exactly what it felt like. I felt my heart drop while still not completely awake. What? No. But we were just singing happy birthday to him two days ago. How's that kid with the mohawk doing? I was just singing along to "Five Years" and celebrating his new music. He was here just a minute ago.
Even though I had the time to sleep another three or so hours, I couldnt anymore. I sat up, cried, and went to see how my mom was doing. It felt like a family member had passed away and I just got the call.
My mom was shockingly the one who took the news the best. "He gave us so much music," she explained. "You have to realize what he left us with. A lot
of music. Enough to last a lifetime. Be happy that he existed."
Bowie accomplished incredible and groundbreaking things. There will never be another artist like him. We know this. But let's focus on the personal things that he's given all of us. The memories that feel almost hand-delivered by the man himself - the records, the concerts, the parking lot sing-a-longs, the little moments of bliss. This time last year, I had one of the most emotional weekends of my life, and Ill never forget it.