Faint echoes across time: London, September 11, 1977.
Bing Crosby: "Tell me, have you ever listened to any of the older fellows?"
David Bowie: "Oh yeah, sure. I like, um... John Lennon? And the other one, with... um...Harry Nilsson."
Crosby: "Hmm... you go back that far, huh?"
Bowie: "I'm not as young as I look."
Crosby: "None of us is, these days."
toddalcott's insightful appreciation/overview of Elvis Presley's film career reminded me that in addition to being the King's birthday today, it is also David Bowie's. I may be drummed out of the Precious Glam Buggery Society for admitting this, but I had to resort to Google to determine how old he is. The result knocked me for a loop.
David Bowie is 60 today. Sixty.
This should not shock me. Many of my close friends are in the neighborhood of 40ish or well above. (Why I choose to run with such a substantially older crowd when I am but a wee lass of 20-odd years is, of course, an enduring mystery.) But still, a sixty year old David Bowie just doesn't sound right.
Then again, a 72-year old Elvis Presley's also a little hard to envision. James Dean would be 76. Lennon would be 65, as is Paul Simon. Bowie's ersatz namesake Davy Jones is 61, and his entire career was staked on being a Cute Moppet. Chuck Berry is 80. Youth sure ain't what it used to be.
Which is probably a good thing. Whether the result of pharmacological excess or tragic accident, suicide by fried foods or mad gunmen, the rock and roll example has long been that life past age 27 was not worth bothering with. And that's so obviously not the case. Talent, the creative urge, even love, when properly nurtured and protected these things get better with time. We turn to music, to poetry and literature and film, to help us understand our lives and to look ahead. We need those trailblazers to scout the way, to give words to feelings and experiences we have yet to face. We need them at age 30, we need them at age 60 and beyond. And even when we don't need their guidance, we value their companionship just the same, fellow travelers on a long road whose ultimate destination we can't yet know. Life is too brief and rushes by like faded signposts on an interstate highway. Before you even know where you are, you're not there anymore. At any age, we need all the help, all the perspective, all the heroes, all the friends we can get.
Besides, Bowie is only 60 in Earth years. What that translates to in magic Bowie spaceman years...I'm speculating roughly 40ish? The peculiarities of his particular species, whatever it is, are not known to men. Well, all right, the peculiarities of his aging process are not known to men. Whatever he is, he wears it well, and I look forward to the next sixty years of scary monsters and diamond dogs.
Still, I can't help but wonder what old age will do to his film career. I'm not sure the world is ready for The Man Who Fell To Earth And Can't Get Up.