Recalling David bowie moments in my life

The first world event for which I have an actual memory is the Apollo 11 moon mission in 1969.

I was born in 1964 and all the history I know from before the age of five comes from books, photos and old grainy videos.

But I clearly remember sitting on the floor in front of an old black and white TV, watching the rocket launch and the first pictures beamed back. I may not have understood the significance of those events until later, but I remember the excitement of the adults around me.

I have similar memories of “Star Trek” being one of my earliest favourite TV shows. My mother may have started me on “Romper Room” and “The Friendly Giant,” but I soon developed a lifelong addiction to the adventures of the Starship Enterprise.

In keeping with the sci-fi theme, one of my earliest favourite songs was David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” Not when originally released in 1969, but later, when I was old enough to appreciate the lyrics.

It was one of the first songs captured on my first cassette recorder, a gift in the early 1970s. I sat the recorder next to the radio, telephoned my request into the station and hit record moments before the opening notes.

The sound quality was atrocious. But my friends and I sang along to that recording for months, over and over again, as Major Tom repeatedly floated away.

I don’t think I’m alone in having a David Bowie moment in my life.

Since his passing from cancer on Sunday, the media has been quick to review his colourful life and five-decade career. I ran a Google news search earlier this week and the top 10 hits included a CBC story on how Bowie impacted gay rights and one in The Cannabist, on his 1976 U.S. marijuana arrest.

On Tuesday, The Mercury ran an overview I’d recommend from a music critic with The New York Times. Longer pieces will follow, in this weekend’s newspapers and coming issues of various magazines. And more books will join those already written.

For now, fans are focusing on their favourite memories. And there are so many to choose from. His Wikipedia page, should you decide to print it, is actually 34 pages long.

I enjoyed some of his acting as much as his music. The roles always seemed oddly appropriate.

He often played otherworldly entities, first winning acclaim as a dying alien in “The Man Who Fell To Earth.” He starred as the Goblin King opposite a bunch of puppets in Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth,” and joined Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon in the vampire film “The Hunger.”

He also portrayed such historical figures as Pontius Pilate and Andy Warhol. And he played one of my favourite figures in science, the engineer and inventor Nikola Tesla.

Bowie has also earned a number of awards, across a number of industries. My personal favourite was in 2013, when he and J.R.R. Tolkien were inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

So it seemed fitting when Bowie’s “Space Oddity” became the first music video shot in space. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded a version of the song, with Bowie’s permission, that includes a very different ending.

I thought that video was a wonderful tribute given Bowie’s contributions over five decades. This time the entire world and I sang along, over and over again, as Major Tom finally makes it safely home.

But Bowie had a different finale in mind. And he released it just days before his passing. Page 1 of 2

Recalling David Bowie moments in my life 2016-04-25, 10:47 AM

On Jan. 7, one day before his 69th birthday, he released a video for “Lazarus,” from his new album “Blackstar.”

Bowie plays a bedridden hospital patient through most of it. Dark hands reach up from beneath the bed, and he sings about events fans will recognize from his life. The only energy he shows involves a desperate creativity.

The meaning seems hard to miss.

As Tony Visconti, a producer who worked on such projects as “Space Oddity” and “Blackstar,” said this week: “His death was no different from his life — a work of art.”

Michael Strickland is a Guelph-based storyteller.

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