I was eight or nine, I know, because we were in my dad’s house in Garland, Tx. I was in the kitchen, at the window. Oh, hey! C’mere! I want you to see this! my dad called from the living room. Come watch. I sat next to him on the floor in front of the TV. He said, Okay. This is New Wave.
David Bowie walked onto the screen. He had an acoustic guitar. The set behind him was a sunsetish purpley pink, but otherwise empty. He sat down on a plain wooden stool and sang Space Oddity, which I’ve thought of as Major Tom ever since, though I know it’s not.
It’s one of those memories that comes up often. Partly for the music; partly because I felt somehow like an adult since my dad wanted to teach me something that seemed so grown up and sophisticated; partly because I have a really clear memory of that moment, of falling in love with that song, with that singer. With the whole thing.
When I was eighteen I finally saw David Bowie perform. It was a general admission show and we got there early so we could get close. Before he came on stage we got a bet going about what the first song would be, and I remember saying of course it would be Major Tom, how could it not? Everyone else picked different songs, but I really needed that to be the opening one, because I wanted to go back to being a little kid and hearing it for the first time again. I won the bet. No one paid me, but I didn’t care.
Anyway. I’ll be over here, listening to Hunky Dory, imagining that my dad and David Bowie both are still around, just out of touch someplace. It’s not like that isn’t true.