David Bowie, Major Tom and a four year old's obsession with the Goblin King
Planet earth paid tribute to one of its greatest and most charismatic musical icons this week.
Bizarrely it was through my four-year-old daughter’s borderline obsession with David Bowie that I came to understand and appreciate the man’s life work.
Many will have grown up with his early music, but it was the 1986 film Labyrinth that first introduced me, and then my daughter, 30 years later.
Brixton born David Robert Jones, better known as David Bowie, died on January 10 2016 from cancer.
His influence on music, fashion, art, popular culture and the imaginations of generations of people the world over spanned half a century.
He released his final album Blackstar on his 69th birthday, two days before his death.
Space Oddity, Let’s Dance, Star Man, Heroes, Ashes to Ashes, The Man Who Sold The World, Life on Mars, The Jean Genie, Rebel Rebel, and more recently Blackstar and Lazarus all defined him as one of music’s most successful chameleons.
It was only when I bought the Labyrinth DVD for my daughter, aged two at the time (now aged four) that as an adult I started to properly realise the strength of his contribution.
She watched Jim Henson’s surreal fantasy over and over again, developing a borderline obesession with The Goblin King above all the other characters, even Sir Didimus.
Notwithstanding Jareth’s infamous “bulge”, we encouraged her interest while her peers made do with Peppa Pig and Frozen - which she bluntly shunned.
We were proud she was going against the grain and enjoying “You Remind Me Of The Babe” over “Let It Go”, and surprised that she was so dead set on it.
Maybe it’s partly because Bowie rhymes with her name, Zoe. Who knows?
She memorised the songs, but wanted more, so out came Space Oddity.
Childhood fantasy characters gave way to the simplistic ideas of Major Tom “sitting in a tin can, far above the earth”, and she could be heard singing the song in its entirity while playing with her Indiana Jones characters in her bedroom (her mum’s influence!).
Questions of space, the stars, our planet and whether Major Tom was still alive followed, so we have Bowie to thank for broadening our daughter’s mind at the tender age of four.
I bought Hunky Dory and Scary Monsters on vinyl and we danced on a Friday night, watching interviews and documentaries in bed on rainy Saturday mornings.
Then Blackstar - both the video and song - came along, and blew us both out of the water.
Macabre, drawn out, and to be honest a bit scary – we loved it.
She was adamant the space man at the start of the video was in fact a crash landed Major Tom.
I ordered Blackstar on heavy set vinyl last week, and it seems so much more poignant now.
When I broke the news of Bowie’s death to Zoe this morning she simply said “my lip hurts”, and we had a brief cuddle.
It was me, not her, with the tears welling up in my eyes.
We missed the “wonder years”, but Bowie’s music, styles, characters and general aura has enabled a special kind of sharing between my daughter and I, something that will cement our relationship for years to come.
In that and I’m sure in countless other relationships across planet earth this week, Bowie has been immortalised and taken his rightful place in the great universal consciousness.