22 July 2010

We Go Way Back: Bowie & Me

I have a very clear memory of my first glimpse of The Thin White Duke.  It was the late 1970s and I was about six years old.  As I've said many times (and will say many times more) THANK GOD my family had the good sense to leave me to my own devices with stacks of records from time to time. 

The androgynous, cold, almost sexless stare that was illustrated on the "Young Americans" LP was the first impression I had of Mr. Bowie and it confused me.... or should I say it scared me as much as it left me curious.  Who WAS this guy?  I kept searching the liner notes and sounds on the record inside the sleeve.  I knew my way around a turntable at a young age, but I had only a vague idea of the forbidden world represented in lines like "What you like is in the limo."  Having seen quite a few episodes of Starsky & Hutch, I assumed he meant guns and hookers.  Never mind the fact that I had NO idea what a hooker really WAS.  I just knew I wasn't allowed to say it.

This particular copy (now a gem of my collection) was one piece in an excellent stack of vinyl shared by my Aunt Karen and Aunt Susan.  It was a MUST LISTEN on my many frequent stays at my grandparents house and entered my possession when both Aunts moved out (and on to cassettes and CDs)...  Lucky me.  

Though I've been a life-long Bowie fan through his many creative phases (some good, some grim), the above image is the one that alights in my mind's eye whenever his name is called.  Even a farily up-close look at his arresting stare on the Roseland Ballroom stage and a couple of passings by on the streets of New York City couldn't erase what my child's eyes took in over thirty years ago.  You know what they say about first impressions.