I have led a pretty charmed life in the sense that for no compelling reason, I've gotten to know some of the most famously charming men and women on earth - many of whom were my heroes growing up. But I don't think I ever met anyone as deeply charming as David Bowie. When I first met David, it was back during what some Bowie scholars would identify as his Dark Ages -- a.k.a. The Tin Machine years. I loved Tin Machine then and still do now -- go ahead and judge.
How could I not love Bowie? The very first 45 I ever bought was "Space Oddity" -- which I immediately played over and over again to blow the minds of anyone who would listen. After I met Bowie decades later, I called up an old friend who worshipped Bowie right alongside me as a kid. "So what he really like?" my pal asked me. "Well, he's less like Ziggy Stardust, and more like James Mason," I told my friend. I meant that as a compliment. For all the edgy personas he wore so well over so many years, the man who I met was fantastically elegant, eloquent and funny as hell.
What makes someone truly charming? In Bowie's case, it was not just his wit, his artistic brilliance and his solicitous but sincere love for conversation. It's also the ease he puts you at and the grace with which he carries a lifetime of expectations. And wonderfully, my impression is that David Bowie is still just odd enough to remind you of The Man Who Fell To Earth you loved too. For instance, I have a vague memory of a truly bizarre gift David once claimed to have bought me that American customs would not let him bring into the country. All I can remember is that my gift from Bowie was something deceased in formaldehyde. Some gifts are better left undelivered.
I haven't spoken to David Bowie in many years now. So I buy all the reissues and love the amazing movies directed by his son Duncan who I vaguely remember meeting in a recording studio when he was just a boy. As a fan, I'm sorry not to have had more new records and more tours from David Bowie of late, but if the man's choice is to focus all that charm on his family and closest friends, I respect that and admire him even more.
So happy Birthday David Bowie. This expression of thanks and love is not in formaldehyde. It's still alive and well -- like you. Please know you are and always will be a hero to millions of us -- and not just for one day.
That said, here's a playlist of some of my favorite Bowie songs -- and yes, Tin Machine is on there. Please add your favorite Bowie songs and birthday wishes for David below.
"HEROES" -- David Bowie
"CAN'T STOP THINKING ABOUT ME" -- David Bowie
"AMAZING" -- Tin Machine
"SPACE ODDITY" -- David Bowie
"JUMP THEY SAY" -- David Bowie
"LIFE ON MARS?" -- David Bowie
"LOVING THE ALIEN" -- David Bowie
"THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD" -- David Bowie
"THIS IS NOT AMERICA" -- David Bowie with The Pat Metheny Group
"CHANGES" -- David Bowie
"UNDER PRESSURE" -- David Bowie with Queen
"SOUND + VISION" -- David Bowie
"SLIP AWAY" -- David Bowie
"GOLDEN YEARS" -- David Bowie
"EVERYONE SAYS 'HI'" -- David Bowie
"TEENAGE WILDLIFE" -- David Bowie