Sunday, 25 December 2011

I can assure you; I have not been to Oxford Town

I know this blog so far has been about my life and my experiences, particularly in my early teens, but today I would like to share the story of how the music of one David Bowie came in to my life. You see since the first moments I had heard but a few chords of "The Man Who Sold The World" when I surfing the internet late one night it completely changed my perspective on music and art. I was 15yo and around this time I was deeply in to "noise rock" the early music of Sonic Youth *basically anything before Daydream Nation and the early EPs and albums of White Zombie *before they became essentially Rob Zombie's backing band* were what turned me on, my philosophy was if it had a discernible tune, melody or seemed to be anything other than an extended jam session with absolutely no focus in mind I hated it and was terribly pretentious to anyone who didn't agree with my opinion. I am not proud now to admit this but this is how I was, for whatever reason, I was an elitist music snob. A very pretty one :P but a snob nonetheless. I suppose I was young and immature, I was a follower of a few alternative bands, not that either of those two bands these days are particularly obscure but back then and in my area they were unheard of. And to someone like me being so unpopular and awkward it gave me some sense of identity, something to cling to that made me feel proud, and I ran with it.

I suppose this post does fit neatly in to the timeline of my life I am attempting to the best of my fleeting abilities as shortly after I left the farm was when my therapy sessions were becoming more frequent and me and my therapist had gotten quite close and he was interested in discussing music with me. To make it easier as he may come up a lot I will call him "The Prof" *epic Back To The Future reference right thar* One day when talking about my gender problems he asked me if I had ever heard of David Bowie, as much as it pained me back then to admit to gaps in my music knowledge I respected him too much to get uppity and confessed I had no idea as to who he was.

He went on to explain he was a rock singer who started in the 1960s but got his big break during the "Glam Rock" explosion that happened in the early 1970s. Right off the bat this did not impress me, any mention of 70s rock and my mind crawled with images of Led Zeppelin and The Who *two bands that despite my best efforts I have never been able to get in to, I respect what they have done but it just doesn't turn me on* we ended up talking for most of the session about Bowie and I was enraptured. He explained how he dressed as flamboyantly as possible, pranced around on stage under the guise of "Ziggy Stardust" singing songs with homosexual themes and defied gender conventions by looking as beautiful as he wanted to. To a young, transgender girl like myself this was amazing! :D I had to get home as quickly as possible and listen to this amazing man. The way The Prof explained him to me made him seem like Bowie was singing to people like me, Hell back then even I had only just learned that their was a word for people like me, ah Hell I had only just learned that more people like me existed. I had visions of being the last of my kind, walking across deserted wastelands dressed in a tattered cloak carrying a sword that I managed to salvage from some ancient tomb filled with murals of my dead race. I also like to envision I have some witty, trash talking side-kick, possibly a small, gold hungry Dwarf who joined me in hopes of gold and adventure. *When I say it like that being Trans sounds epic*

Soooo after that little rambling I did thar I went home and after doing whatever I was up to around that time, I was probably watching Wonderfalls or something *amazing show that only lasted one season sadly, watch it and thank me later* that night I looked up on Bowie and noticed "The Man Who Sold The World" was one of his early singles and being a completest I wanted to hear his earliest possible music. The room instantly filled with distorted, sultry guitar tones followed by this voice, a voice like I had never heard before. Listening to "Noise Rock" all the time vocals were something I had never appreciated all that much, though Thurston Moore is a pretty decent singer IMO, but Bowie's voice resonated with me, it moved something in me. The lyrics were deep and filled with metaphors *and for once I could hear them right off the bat* I closed my eyes and just drifted away to some far off pastoral landscape, a place where you can pass yourself upon the stairs and exchange conversation.

After that fateful night I devoured every piece of information upon David Bowie I could find, I read about his personal life, learned the details of every single one of his albums. Even before I had heard them all I knew who recorded them, when they were recorded and in some instances the particular drugs Bowie was on when making said album. He spoke to me in a way other musicians had not before, yes he was not Trans and probably these days is very, very much straight but he still defied many conventions on gender and something about a straight man singing a song like "Rebel Rebel" or "Hallo Spaceboy" made him seem all the more cool.

Nowadays I own all of his albums and have heard each of them many, many times over and can probably recite the lyrics to all his songs of by heart but they have never lost any impact whatsoever to me. Even my GF when I met her used to refer to me as "that girl who loves Bowie a bit too much" to her family and friends. Back when I was so socially awkward the only thing I knew everything on and was confident talking about was Bowie so I used to talk about him all the time, I guess I just felt that I couldn't be caught out when discussing him. That he was something comfortable to me, like an old friend, I knew no matter what happened I would always have the music of David Bowie to help me. His discography was so diverse so eclectic that he has a song for every mood possible, every experience you can go through just a quick dip in to his albums and you may just find the answer you are looking for.

When I had trouble in love I put on Stationtostation and The Thin White Dukes tortured yet cold, icy and distant croon would be a veritable catharsis to me. When I feel alone and isolated from the world Low gives me a few moments in time where I can be alone in my dreamscape, where the world can go away and me and Bowie can be alone, can just live in our pain and isolation.

That is why I love Bowie, as I write this I am glancing over to my CD rack and his CDs are there waiting for me when I need them most, I must admit I don't listen to his music as much as I used to since my musical tastes have become much more diverse and my CD collection has steadily grown over the years so I try to listen to all my albums and to focus on one band or singer would mean I would never get a chance to listen to all of them. But when I am depressed everyone in my life knows which singer I turn to for advice and musical therapy and that is David Bowie, when you think about it its really quite fortunate, when you see me listening to Bowie you know something is up. 


  1. Always loved Bowie. Perhaps not as much as you but his music was part of my growing up.

  2. I just put the Man Who Sold The World on. Been a while. You're my sidekick and don't you forget it. Moments like this are why music became such a big part of both our lives really, and I'm glad someone was there when you needed them.