I wasn’t going to do this. Write about artists I’ve loved in the past tense, that is. But listening to most of my David Bowie collection since last Monday has brought back a lot of memories. And then this morning I woke up to news about Eagles guitarrist Glenn Frey having died. And here I sit, with a notebook full of words and more music washing through the room, thinking that a tribute might be called for after all.
Bowie’s music, along with Springsteen’s, Dylan’s and Pete Seeger’s, saw me through some of my hardest years. I remember a freezing cold train station where I tried to keep warm by stalking up and down the platform edge to Diamond Dogs and Heroes. I remember writing about non-verbal communication while listening to Major Tom and Firelake and not minding very much when people called me crazy as long as they left me alone.
Just after the Berlin Wall came down I fell in love with Bowie for the second time. Suddenly, I could buy records that were completely out of my reach before, could listen to songs I’d missed out on hearing the first time around. But Diamond Dogs stayed one of my favourites.
The Eagles came onto my radar much later and, no, I’ve never thought of Hotel California as my favourite Eagles song. For many years now, every time I hear one of their songs I’m transported back to Devon, to my first of many bike races I’ve since attended.
I’d not been going out long with my new boyfriend, and I liked the idea of coming along and supporting him while he raced. There was an evening crit along Torquay’s seafront and even though I was sure I’d never… I ended up screaming my head off at the end, willing my man over the line at the front of the bunch. The following day was a too-many-miles stage over the moors, with the field periodically coming past the race HQ. I couldn’t even drive back then, so I spent time at HQ entertaining myself with a notebook and the jukebox. Which was full of Eagles tracks.
David Bowie and Glenn Frey wrote very different music, but both had a place in my life. And both will be missed – the songs now forever bittersweet.
Rest in Peace, David and Glenn. Perfect acoustics wherever you are.