"In Your Head It's Always 1973".
While I share my girlfriends aversion to the style of clothing and make-up of Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie as a person strikes me with awe - not in the frightening but the admiring sense! I often wonder why that is because frankly, I don't have a clue. It's not like he's really some guy from space as his Ziggy character intended to suggest. And after reading the great Bowie-biography written by Christopher Sandford I validated the thought that he's just some guy who makes great music. So nothing to be particularly excited about.
I guess I do know how that came to be. To my disgrace I must admit that I started listening to David Bowie because of the (breathtakingly fantastic) computer game "Omikron - The Nomad Soul" which started with the Bowie song "New Angels Of Promise" (in a somewhat changed version than the album version) and starred Bowie as a character in the game, too. As it's a game taking place in a futuristic dystopian parallel dimension, I instantly connected David Bowie's brilliant vocals to the science fiction genre. Not only that! Bowie seemed to sing out of a futuristic parallel dimension! Now, isn't that some way to start creating a mystical image of a person that's basically just a simple man who sings songs...?
So how did I continue with the myth that is Bowie? If I were to believe in fate I would probably call it that. Let's just say it was the Universe that made my next "encounter" with Bowie equally parallel-dimension-ish. "Life On Mars", anyone? The BBC TV series, not the song. I mean... of course, it's the song that connects the TV series to Bowie again. And that's how I "encountered" Bowie again. Let's see...
"My name is Sam Tyler. I had an accident and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad? In a coma? Or back in time? Whatever's happened - it's like I've landed on a different planet. Now maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home."
It's that quite theatrical song "Life On Mars?" from the legendary "Hunky Dory" album (from 1971) Sam listens to on his iPod in the car when he has that accident. When waking up in 1973, he also hears that song - from an old tape player in the old 70s car he wakes up next to. So it's that song which accompanied Sam during his travel through the dimensions (if you want to call it that).
But still! Why is David Bowie that mystical to me? I mean, I do understand it's both just fiction, the old computer game and that TV series. It's brilliant fiction but merely that, nothing that has anything to do with reality.
Maybe it's because David Bowie himself is a connection between those two worlds. Between the real 1973 and the present day because fortunately he's still alive and kickin'! You could say "my grandpa's also a connection between 1973 and 2009, why don't you go and adore everyone that age?". But David Bowie wasn't a normal guy back then. And he wasn't only a big star! David Bowie was a huge idol and icon of a whole generation! A significant universal milestone of that decade.
For Sam Tyler in "Life On Mars" the world of 1973 is just the world of his imagination as he's merely in a coma in 2006 imagining the whole 1973-thing. (Which isn't a spoiler now, don't worry. That becomes clear almost directly in the first episode of the series.) But how this world comes to exist, no one knows. Can it really be sheer imagination? Or is that comatose world more than just a vivid dream? Is it some other dimension? Where does our mind go when we dream anyway? Some place far away in space? And does time pass there like it does on Earth? "Down in space it's always 1982..." Hmm... 1982... the year I was born. Maybe I'd go there instead of 1973 if I were to be invovled in an accident and my mind got catapulted back... (I could start with something called "The Maya" now, but I won't. It would be too much for one simple blog, I guess...)
Nowadays I have almost each Bowie CD at home; most of his songs have something special in them - they aren't just rock/pop songs, they always have that tiny bit that makes them special. Though I'm worrying about him quite much as he's 62 years old and I haven't heard much from him lately. His last appearance was in the film "Prestige" in 2006, the same year in which he re-recorded the Pink Floyd song "Arnold Layne" together with David Gilmour. But the latest Bowie album "Reality" came out in 2003 so it's about time!! Here's the latest picture I could find, it's from the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009. He does look rather healthy so I'm relieved for now...
The Sam Tyler from the (quite crappy) US version of the series "Life On Mars" sais in the last episode: "David Bowie... why does everything always come down to David Bowie?" For me it's fun imagining David Bowie being some supernatural connection between dimensions instead of just human. Real life's so damn boring, isn't it?