I can remember, being a student at the University of Copehnagen, passing a cafe, and that song went flooding in: you walk past a cafe, but you don't eat, when you've lived this long. 19 years old and I felt invincible, eternal, a wise old soul, an alien in a foreign land, but David Bowie knew exactly how I felt.
Saw somewhere, an interview with Bowie, he laughed when asked something about always changing, and said he if you look at his work, the themes haven't changed all these years. It's always about isolation. And yet, this is a person who's connected with so many people. Literally, male and female - admittedly, unapologetically so - and also emotionally, psychically. A loner, a private person, and yet by all accounts warm, generous, affable. And Iman, his wife - his perfect soul mate - also an intensely private, public person.
So it was such a treat to come across - amongst all the treasures in this show - pages torn from notebooks, scribbles and sketches and words to songs. Like Rock and Roll suicide, in its entirety. I'll be putting sections together, for you, in collage. This is my first.
Such a treat to see his thought process. To see how many lines I've got wrong all these years. I still don't know what a 'chev break' is, or why it's snarling. I hear 'ship breaks are snarling' when I sing it. To see him add 'naturally' between 'so.. religiously unkind' and think, of course, the pace is better. But 'don't let the milk floats ride your mind': that one must have come to him in its entirety. I wish I knew what it means.
I don't want to spoil the impact for you, and I'm sure it won't, but making my way thru the exhibition, to come to the climax of this huge, vast, tall space - I don't know how they got the V&a to be that tall- and there's Bowie, live, in 3D, performing this song for the last time, and the shock of the impact on the crowd at the time, at Hammersmith. It hit me, knocked me over, like a wave.
I found myself, in the darkness, in floods of tears.
Yes, I'm old: younger than Bowie, true, but older than a lot of people. And while that's been freaking me out, at times - how quickly life goes by, just the blink of an eye - I've also realised, hey, had I not been this old, I'd not have had a chance to see him play live. As he was, then. But I'll save that story for another post.