In my family, I’m known for my emotional outbursts. I cry at many things – Christmas adverts, piano-backed TV moments involving mums and daughters, anything adorable or sad involving children. I am basically a leaky bucket of a woman. So I wasn’t surprised today when I felt tears spring to my eyes at the news of the death of David Bowie.
But why? I didn’t know him. I’d never met him or seen him play live. I can’t claim ownership of his music or style. My defining musical era was the eighties when both music and style were decidedly dodgy. I came late to the Bowie party (I’m late for most things so it seems appropriate).
I have been listening to the radio today and the wall-to-wall tributes. Many people tell stories of having met him or tales of how his music influenced their lives or just made them happy. I have wept through most of the anecdotes and songs but I am still left wondering why.
I think it’s because David Bowie was born in south-east London and so was I. He played one of his first gigs at a pub a few miles from where I live now (The Three Tuns in Beckenham, now sadly a Zizzi but I reckon David would have approved of the Arancini). We were both born on the 8th of January. I told everyone on Friday that he’d released his new album, Black Star as a birthday present for us both. I even proposed a champagne toast to him.
But most of all, I think I feel sad because my family adopts their musical heroes as part of the family. James Taylor and Stevie Wonder are both uncles, Carole King is an aunt. Therefore, David Bowie must be godfather to my children. My eight-year-old son has always loved Ziggy Stardust and used to giggle as he sang about the, ‘spiders from Mars’, when he was five or so. My daughter and I held hands and wept with pride as Team GB walked out to ‘Heroes’ at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. My husband and I do a nifty duet to ‘Space Oddity.’
And that’s the reason. He’s one of our family. He’s that cool, edgy uncle with the effortless style and that misfit way that we adore. And he always will be.