Tribute

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The world was not ready to lose David Bowie. I never imagined that brilliant life force burning out.  He’s always been there/out there, for me. The day it hit the news I got so many texts and emails from friends offering their condolences. Everyone thought of me, as if I had lost someone close. It felt surreal.

I thought about all the positive ways in which he influenced me at a key time in my young life. In 8th grade, my cool new friend from New York, turned us on to The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, and of course the most beloved Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. I had never heard anything like it before! The music shook me up and inspired.

I was a creative soul living in suburban hell. Most everyone dressed the same and to express ones self as an individual was uncool to the masses.  I did have my little tribe of friends, and found my place within the schools art department. Bowie was my muse and by freshman year of high school I had my own version of glam rock fashion sense, mixing vintage dresses and hats with glittered makeup.  I would prance down the hall between classes and suffer the critical eyes of jocks and cheerleaders. I’ll never forget this comment from an older boy: “What do you think, it’s Halloween?”  My heart clenched but I held my head high and tried to maintain dignity. It was good. An early exercise in self esteem.

October of 1974, David Bowie came to perform at the Arie Crown theater in Chicago.  My friends and I scored main floor, I think 23rd row seats. I wore a 1930’s dress that I found outside a thrift store, in California. This dress still lives in my closet and sometimes gets resurrected for special occasions. For instance this is me dressing up as my 15 year old self for Halloween at the Lizard in 2012.

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We are sitting in our great seats but when the show starts it’s not good enough. I need to get closer so I march up the isle and sit on the step next to the first row, right in front of the stage. I was mesmerized and time froze for an elongated minute, before security booted me back to my seat. Another five minutes and I did it again, but this time others followed and they couldn’t stop us all!  Bowie towered above us, in all his rock star God like glory. He didn’t seem to see me or anyone else and was completely inside his performance. It was the pivotal concert experience of my youth.  I don’t recall which songs he played or anything but the image of him in front of me on that stage, wearing his new persona, in baggie pants and padded shoulders. I was totally filled with awe and wonder!

Fast forward to May 19 2004, just a few days before my 45th birthday.  A friend gets tickets for Bowie in Milwaukee and there are 5 of us going. We have amazing seats and also miraculously  BACK STAGE PASSES! At the time I think this means we will be meeting up with the band, literally behind the stage. We are invited by a random association to base player, Gail Ann Dorsey. I can’t believe my luck. It’s been 30 years since that Arie Crown show. I’m trying  not to get too excited at the possibility that I may actually meet my teenage rock idol. I just focus on the beautiful moment. The show begins, and there he is looking fab, of course.  He weaves a great combination of new songs intermingled with old favorites. What I love most about this show is that he sheds his theatrical mask. He seemed very serious about himself in 1974. Now he has become real for the Reality tour. He looks so happy to be here,  smiling sincerely and looking at all of us. Maybe he sees me and thinks “Hey, isn’t that the girl that started the aisle uprising  in Chicago?” It was supremely cool. I savored every song and couldn’t stop smiling.

After the show I find out that “Backstage” means we go to a big convention type room, far from the stage and wait for the person in the band who got us the passes. We were fortunate enough to meet Gail, but D.B. was not coming to the party. That’s okay. The idea of meeting him seemed too fantastical. What would I have said? I’ll say it now in hopes he can hear me  from his spirit locale:

Hey there, Mr. Bowie!  You may not know me but I grew up with you. I want you to know that you being you, helped me to find the real me. Your music, the way you dressed and all that you represented gave me faith in my right to be different. Not “fitting in”  was suddenly a gift! It was freeing and exciting to discover my own unique image and realize that I was one of kind,  so why pretend otherwise? The world unfolded and the path of infinite possibilities revealed itself. I’m sorry you had to go but so grateful for all the musical souvenirs you left behind. I have a plan. When spring arrives and I take my first bike ride by the lake, I’ll play Ziggy Stardust and sing every song out loud as I ride down the path. I’ll have to go really early so that no one will hear and if I were you, I’d insert your celestial earplugs. My voice sucks but my intentions are full of heart!

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Tribute”


  1. 1 Susan Adler February 11, 2016 at 5:52 am

    Wow. I’m speechless. This is so awesome! U are the most incredible writer! Thank you for this perfect tribute and nostalgic journey. Xo

  2. 2 Catia February 11, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Beautiful memories, nicely put.


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