Sound And Vision: Bowie The First Time

Four years ago today, David Jones checked out, but David Bowie lingers

The first time I ever heard David Bowie …

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

I rub my tummy and my too-big royal blue nylon swimming togs are almost too hot to touch

My chest is pumping like I’m a human bellows.

Dollymount (1)
Dollymount Strand in north Dublin

The coarse red towel is making the grounded wings of my shoulder blades itch, and the sharp globs of drying sand between my toes are a bugger.

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

And silly thoughts. Like I hear a yelping dog and wonder why you never see cats on a beach.

Not their scene.

My fluttering eyelids cannot quite close out the shimmering ball of flame overhead and I can feel it reddening my rumbling belly. Thinking of those soft ham sandwiches with lashing of butter we’ve brought with us …  God, I’d love someone to hand me an ice-cream … I rub my tummy and my too-big royal blue nylon swimming togs are almost too hot to touch.

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 2Sun, sea, air and time itself are no more, as I plug into the ca-ching-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.

My imagination rising to meet it even as my bony body lies there.

A time when a daydreaming 14-year-old boy believed in myths and legends, long before he learned that myths and legends too can be assembled and even sold

Who is that?

The first time I ever saw David Bowie …

Top of the Pops days later …  what is this?

bowie star man (1)
Bowie and sidekick extraordinaire Mick Ronson 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 …

Yes, David Jones invented and reinvented himself, lived it ten times or more, but David Bowie showed us other possibilities and other worlds

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.  

totp (1)
Yes kids, this show was BIG once upon a pop time

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

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…

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

bowie starman 1

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

A starman.

So many human years ago.

A time when a daydreaming 14-year-old boy believed in myths and legends, long before he learned that myths and legends too can be assembled and even sold.

Yes, David Jones invented and reinvented himself, lived it ten times or more, but David Bowie showed us other possibilities and other worlds.

A star man indeed.

bowie blackstar
Requiem of a thin man: from Bowie’s posthumous final album Blackstar

A starman who fell to earth, but he lives on in the cosmos, a Blackstar now.

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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Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

About endardoo

A newspaper sub-editor for many years, I am now a blogger and freelance sub-editor. Husband of one and house daddy of two: a feisty and dramatic 17-year-old girl and a bright, resilient football nut of a boy aged 16. My website:

18 comments on “Sound And Vision: Bowie The First Time

  1. I hate to admit that I am not a music connoisseur – I will listen to any old pop song on the radio. However I love how you have captured the essence of this legend. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely memories, Enda. That is my favourite period of his, and I managed to see him play live in that one of his persona. Magical experience. I know what you mean about the TOTP audience but if you think they’re dull you should try some of the YouTube videos of that vintage from a German pop show: the audience look like the annual outing for the Lobotomy Society. Search for Mott the Hoople 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Will definitely do that, Clive. Easy for me to criticise … I couldn’t imagine myself being taken for John Travolta on the dance floor, especially if the cameras were on me! I never saw the great man live, unfortunately

      Liked by 1 person

      • They’re worth a look, and some of the comments are great. Try this one:

        I’m no dancer either, but I remember the audience were told what to do, like the ones where they all sway around and wave their hands in the air for Cliff Richard’s latest crime against music. I was at uni when I saw him, a little bit older than you!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. a beautiful tribute to one of the most talented and unique artists of our time!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It would have been Space Oddity for me Enda, a song I found gripping if slightly scary. As I got older, I definitely appreciated Bowie more and I love the way he moved with the times. Older, yes, but always relevant. I was and remain a fan of the Tin Machine years too (underated in my opinion). As for Top of the Pops – oh yeah, isn’t it funny to think how big and influential that TV show once was??

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good man John. I’m sure I had heard Space Oddity – released more than once – but Starman on that beach and then TOTP was epic in my fledgling mind. Great songs, dont forget, until he mostly forgot how to wrie catchy tunes after Ashes To Ashes. But always intriguing, and always cool. Tin Machine? Not for me, I’m afraid!


  5. A Rose Tinted World

    My first memory of Bowie is Space Oddity – I was fascinated with the whole space thing. He was such a great songwriter. But also must admit that ‘Laughing Gnome’ is amongst my favourites! #KCACOLS


  6. That conjured up a few memories of a misspent youth. We all wanted to be Ziggy. My favourite period was when he reinvented (again) as the ThinWhite Duke. I’ll probably spend the rest of the day wandering around singing Young Americans! A very sad day when he left us.


    • Thanks for taking the trouble to read and comment, Wic. Says so much that we can talk about different period Bowies! A massive loss for sure.


  7. A beautiful tribute Enda, so lovely to read! (And also, the ‘Not their scene’ about cats made me laugh.) When Bowie died it hit me much harder than I’d expected. Still feel sad that he couldn’t stay around for longer, and I think Blackstar was a really good album as well (not quite posthumous though, I think, as it was released on his birthday a couple of days before he died?). It’s not an easy one to listen too though…
    Thank you for linking up with #KCACOLS, hope you come back again next time! x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Malin. Yes, you’re right, not quite posthumous! It really was a shock when he died, so unexpected as he really was so good and managing, and even manipulating, his image, and what people actually knew about his life. Despite his fame he guarded his privacy very well … seemed comfortable in the public eye, yet still unknown. Some achievement that. And some man


  8. Great piece, have only really got into his stuff since he shuffled off. I recall that he used to work in an ad agency in the Seventies, which I did too, but never ran into him. Those skinny chested blokes were all the rage then, impossible for me and my barrel chest, those skinny fairisle short sleeved jumpers made me look like a tightly wrapped turkey. Love his live recordings, especially Heroes from a German Concert.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks Paul … I never saw him live, unfortunately, but loads of concert-type footage does indeed show what a performer he was. For a skinny chested bloke, he had some charisma!


  10. I think ‘Starman’ was the song that made me ‘sit up and listen’ to Bowie.. For me, my all time favourite was ‘Let’s Dance’ but I guess it was around at one of the times when sitting in my bedroom playing music was my favourite ‘hobby’ I love artists that are around for a long time and constantly re-inventing themselves. It takes a lot of talent. Oh and Top of the Pops, I can still remember some of the dances of Pan’s People and Legs and Co.

    Liked by 1 person

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