Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Coming from a small town, and growing up ‘different’ in middle class India, Bowie was my ‘touchstone’ in so many different ways. There was something about this tall, pale man, who charged his appearance as if it were clothes, or makeup, and he was all about quiet dignity, never loud, never in your face, despite this persona/s he created for himself, which were always beyond the convention.
My discovery of him was slow and precarious. In fact, I found him via Nirvana’s cover of his ‘The Man Who Sold the World.’ Then ‘Heroes’, which came just a year after I was born, then ‘Ziggy Stardust’ and others. Then I watched him in Nicolas Roeg’s ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ and in Nagisha Oshima’s ‘Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence’, over and over, especially in the Roeg classic.
The great Roger Ebert wrote on the Roeg Classic: “Bowie has an enviable urbane charm. I met him once, and rarely have been so impressed by someone’s poise. If he hadn’t been a rock star he could have had success as an actor (...). (H)e and Roeg make no overt attempt to show Newton (the character Bowie played) as particularly alien. They simply use his presence. He is ... Other. Apart. Defined within himself. And lonely...”
David Bowie wasn’t my favourite singer or favourite performer. But, as I stumbled along with my life, he was always there, beside me, urging me to keep going, cheering, giving me the confidence that I could be what I wanted to be. And now, I hum his ‘Space Oddity’: “I'm floating around my tin can/ Far above the Moon/ Planet Earth is blue/ And there's nothing I can do.”