The episodes that give my life some structure are surprisingly often provided by David Bowie’s words and music. He ties my life together like no one else I know. Sure, there are other memories and other stories that one might tell, and in my case this is complicated by the amnesia that followed a serious industrial accident when I was 18 years old. I forgot a lot after my hand got stuck in a machine. But Bowie has been my sound track. My constant, clandestine companion. In good times and bad. Mine and his.

What’s striking is that I don’t think I am alone in this view. There is a world of people for whom Bowie was the being who permitted a powerful emotional connection and freed them to become some other kind of self, something freer, more queer, more honest, more open and more exciting. Looking back, Bowie has become a kind of touchstone for that past, its glories and its glorious failures, but also for some kind of constancy in the present and for the possibility of a future, even the demand for a better future.

I don’t mean this to sound hubristic. Look, I’ve never met the guy – Bowie, I mean – and I doubt I ever will (and, to be honest, I don’t really want to. I’d be terrified. What would I say? Thank you for the music? That’s so ABBA). But I feel an extraordinary intimacy with Bowie, although I know this is a total fantasy. I also know that this is a shared fantasy, common to huge numbers of loyal fans for whom Bowie is not some rock star or a series of flat media clichés about bisexuality and bars in Berlin. He is someone who has made life a little less ordinary for an awfully long time.

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