Sarah Recommends: “Loving the Alien” by David Bowie

“And your prayers, they break the sky in two…”

I think of all of the things that I did the day after he died. I didn’t want to believe the text that was sent to me in the middle of the night, saying “David Bowie died;” I wanted it to be a mistake. But it wasn’t, and that restless urge or need to create carried him until the end.

I played this song two or three times that day, crying at one point (or maybe crying when I played “Absolute Beginners,” one of his most beautiful songs.) I remembered how I had first seen him in the video for “Let’s Dance;” I had no idea who he was, only that he was there, cool, unflappable, creating a new way for me to escape.

In March, I had the opportunity to see David Bowie Is…in its last stop at the Brooklyn Museum, and it was there that I finally understood, amidst the costumes and shifting identities and his voice coming to me through earphones that were provided for the museum, that he was not a myth. He saved fan art that people sent him. He didn’t achieve instant fame with his earliest efforts. He was his own art project, always pushing forward.

I can listen to him at any time now; that voice is a finger tap away on my phone or my laptop. I could do that before he died, too, but knowing that he was still alive comforted me somehow. It isn’t the same, now that he’s gone.

But I console myself, saying that his art was the prayer that ripped the sky open. I have to believe that.

(Song recommendation by Sarah Nichols)

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