There are people who bring up the question of who are we and why do we matter. When I heard David Bowie for the first time, the sun was pouring onto the living room floor like batter, and you were sitting next to the victrola, looking at an album cover, “Changes One”. I was nine. I was drawn into the room by his voice. The purity of that moment is astounding to me now. I was over whelmed with curiosity and also aversion because his music was a little strange. And then when I saw his picture I died of love.
I didn’t like your taste in music that much, you liked rock n roll girl singers and I only liked boys, but there you were, cross legged, listening to the album you bought, and there was I, discovering a connection to the world I wanted to be from.
I listened to David Bowie in headphones and looked at his picture every day and night for the next five years. I imagined I was there, and I learned all the parts that made up the whole without being a musician. On summer vacation I sat in one chair all day every day listening to David Live and picturing the shows.
I was able to hear through him. When I started playing African drums at fourteen I already had a vision of myself as an artist, I had to learn the physical way to get my music out, but I had developed a true sense on my own world.
I loved David Bowie because he helped me. He helped me connect and have confidence in my own existence.
When I was coat checking at Orso in New York, the same job where Marc Cohn ‘discovered me’ and left my demos to be found by a producer at a jingle house, David Bowie came in for dinner. He leaned into my window as if it were a mirror and said, “How does my lipstick look?”
Years later I met him and his enchanting wife, Iman, with my friend Rosie. We had dinner and another time went to a show. I laughed so much at the dinner, I was like a nine year old, and I hugged him the next time we met at the show. I realized, though he was kind about it, that he didn’t know me the way I felt comfortable with him. I hugged him because I wanted to thank him. I felt I may have stepped over a boundary, and I was embarrassed at the time, but now I’m glad I did it.
The following Winter I was living in London working on my second album, “Whaler”, and Rosie called to say David and Iman invited us to join them in Belize for Christmas. I was too shy. I wanted to go, but I was too damn insecure.
It is sad to me now that the artist who most affected me, the person I day dreamed of meeting and being friends with for almost my whole childhood, offered me the chance to just be myself around him, and I was too scared to accept it.
I wonder who will transform my children’s lives? I wonder if I’ll get to witness that moment, I wonder if I’ll recognize the connection. I hope my son and daughter will call me someday and say something like, “You’ll never guess who I met today!!!!!! And I’m going to their house for Christmas!!!!!!” And I will remember the graciousness Of Iman and David Bowie and feel so happy that my children have the confidence to fully live their dreams.
That’s how I imagine David Bowie. As a boy determined to turn his mind inside out on a quest for his own truth, his own reality, his own creativity.