Keith Moore

I heard the news today… And like most of the nation, across the generations, it’s left me feeling hollow. I’d often expressed my surprise , given his 70s excesses, (a diet of milk, red peppers and cocaine, anyone?) that David Bowie was still alive. But conversely, I didn’t consider, for a moment, what life would be like without him.

I won’t be alone in saying that Bowie, as well as providing the soundtrack to my own increasingly long life, defined my sensibilities. The man was a cultural behemoth. Back in the day my friends and I would hang on to every word of his interviews looking for cultural waymarks then run to the village library in search of collected works of Brecht, Burgess, Laurens van der Post and Mishima. Without Bowie it’s unlikely that in the cultural backwater of my youth I would have discovered the music of the Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop, Beethoven or Brian Eno. Nor would I have spent hours at the GFT watching a myriad of obscure movies that he had mentioned in passing.

Bowie was many different things to so many people. This morning, people have mentioned loving him as Jared in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Another mentioned crying on the way to work as Modern Love came across the airwaves because it reminded him of a special girl. For me it will be meeting my wife for the first time at the Polish Club in Glasgow while dancing drunkenly to Golden Years.

I last saw Bowie perform live in 2003 in Glasgow when I wrote some words for this newspaper. Being unable to find a sitter for my then 13-year-old-son Sam, I remember having to force him to join me to protestations of ‘I don’t want to listen to your weirdy music.’ Midway through Starman, belligerent son was standing, waving his arms and singing along. It filled me with an uncertain pride; and, to this day, having seen Bowie perform live remains, for Sam, a badge of honour amongst his peers.

In a career spanning more than 50 years there were missteps for sure. How could there not? But we forgave them and waited for the next thing. That next thing came only last week with the release of the album Blackstar. A new Bowie record was always a source of great excitement in our household and I’ve spent the weekend annoying the family by playing it loudly and repeatedly. One track, Lazarus, opens with the prescient line: ‘Look up here, I’m in heaven.’ It’s hard to believe it’s the last we’ll hear of him.