Bowie remembered

Four years ago today we heard the news: Ziggy Stardust had left the planet

This is how I remember the first time I ever heard David Bowie.

A crowded  Dublin beach … Dollymount … I am 14 years old … lying on my back, after an hour of frenetic football, away from the clamouring gang, my gangly legs tired and my shins still stinging from the hard plastic Mayco ball.

My chest is still pounding.

The coarse grain of the old red towel makes my shoulder blades itch, and the sharpening globs of drying sand between my toes are a right bugger.

But the sun and the heat and the tangy, seagull shrieking air are working their soporific magic, as I sink back into a day-dream bliss of sound and sensation.

My fluttering eyelids cannot quite close out the shimmering ball of flame overhead and I can feel it reddening my rumbling belly. My too-big royal blue nylon swimming togs are almost too hot to touch.

Dollymount (1)
Dollymount Strand in North Dublin

A transistor radio is on nearby, the usual jingles and faux-jolly pap … just summer noise on a packed beach … 

And then my ears perk up  …

What’s that on the radio?

transistor radio beach 2
Sweet songs sound so good on beach radios

Sun, sea, air and time itself are no more now, as I plug into the ca-ching-ching of an acoustic guitar, then the tum, tum tumping drum, and finally the song itself begins …

Something about a starman, Waiting in the sky …

Tinny and light above the summer chatter and screeching birds …  entrancing somehow.

Above the beach, above the earth, above everything else.

Who is that?

Top of the Pops days later …  what is this?

bowie star man (1)
Bowie and Mick Ronson doing singing Starman on Top Of The Pops

This unbelievably skinny man/woman but with a strong, man’s voice and movements in some kind of blue, gold and red spangly spacesuit thing, playing a big blue acoustic guitar …

God, his band are all so skinny too, but it’s him you have to look at  …  or he’s the one looking at me, smirking right through adolescent, untried me with those laughing, challenging eyes … so confident and far out.  

As the Top of the Pops kids dance around these exotic creatures in their usual desultory, hyper self-conscious way.

totp (1)
Yes kids, Top Of The Pops was big one time!

I simply can’t look away. Something strange about those eyes, one darker than the other, or something, thick dyed hair all spiky and standing up…

bowie starman 1Oh, my God, is that lipstick, and make-up!!!  

Thin face framing subversive grin through sinister tombstone teeth. Leading this spangly guitar-driven wah wah, wah wah wonderful song.

A starman.

So many human years ago.

A star man who fell to earth, finally reclaimed by the cosmos, a Blackstar now.

bowie blackstar
Bowie’s requiem: from his final album Blackstar

Ashes to ashes .…

ashes to ashes vid
Who else could dress up as a harlequin, wade into the sea and still look cool?
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4 comments on “Bowie remembered

  1. Anne casey

    Lovely piece Enda. I remember you being impressed I was a Bowie fan (who isnt) but disappointed that I mix ed up albums. The word iconic in proper use here.


  2. Tracey Abrahams

    I think Bowie was always something more than a mere mortal. It was so much more than just the music (although the music is quality) he was an icon for people who didn’t fit the mold. As someone who as always felt like an outsider I havd always been drawn to those people who embrace their uniqueness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah Tracey, his magic was about so much more than the music and costume changes … it’s like he was the patron saint of those who dared to be different.


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