I AWOKE one morning in January to a message from my friend Roy in England that just said, “Sad day for music.” A sense of dread welled up. I know that I am likely to witness the passing of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and Patti Smith. What will the world be like without them? For the moment we share the same sunlight and oxygen supply. When there is a lunar eclipse, I know that Paul McCartney and Toni Morrison are looking at it, too. I know there’s a chance that I could bump into Smokey Robinson or Elton John getting coffee in an airport somewhere in the world.
But not David Bowie. He is gone so unexpectedly. I was in New York City that weekend waiting to get Blackstar, his heralded new album, the beginning of the next phase of Bowie in our lives. Would there be a tour? Would I get a new haircut to look like him (again)? I should have found him on his deathbed there in Manhattan to thank him. A kiss on his alien eyelids.
For those of us who came of age in the 1970s, Bowie was more than a “rock star.”