David Bowie's "Earthling"

Thanks to Bowie, the year began in the frame of mind she’d anticipated:

are you ok, you’ve been shot in the head

and I’m holding your brains

the old woman said

so I drink in the shadows, of an evening sky

see nothing at all

our praise to you, nothing ever goes away

That was “Seven Years in Tibet” (pointedly sharing the title of a film released in the same year starring Brad Pitt), -where feeling was lost, again with empty eyes like his own, on David Bowie’s Earthling (02/03/97). With Earthling she could not tell, but it seemed to catch the miasma. The “lie” (in “Telling Lies”) was the empty promise/sense, “Feels like something's gonna happen this year” coupled with (“ooh ah visionary”, yea, a lie); certainly nothing was going to happen this year with it all dead now. Yet he exhorted, “Don’t you let my letter get you down” in “Battle for Britain (The Letter)”, the only artist who would ever throw in a lecture about “self-pity”. Who even was aware of the phrase in these times? They were, the family was, very much so.  But this was, after all, the man with the spiritual acuity to address a Pentecostal in “Bus Stop” in 1989. Not to mention the spiritual temerity it would have taken to say The Lord's Prayer on one knee live in 1992 at the Freddie Mercury tribute in front of a billion people (it was Easter Monday), with the requisite public backlash (it was still offensive to offer a public prayer on Easter Monday; the significance of the day was of no relevance).

On Earthling there was “Little Wonder” – to her that was not grounded. “Law (Earthlings on Fire)” struck her as accurate “With the sound, with the sound, with the sound of the ground, sure I get a little bit afraid, sometimes”, as did “I’m Afraid of Americans”. What chilled her mind and struck her as the trap she’d witnessed as the outcome in being born dead was “all praise to you, nothing ever goes away” (“Seven Years in Tibet”). For her it also felt like an echo of the trip she’d ended up on where she’d felt sentenced to a repetition going nowhere, her last subsequent trip after Grace and Thanksgiving.

“This chorus was a little close to one of my first two thoughts at the moment the ‘crash’ had finished and I felt I’d been born dead. It’s […..] the general notion of having gone through something that should have transformed everything, and arriving back, in what became utter horror, to a present reality where absolutely nothing had changed and being terrified that you were actually guilty of having fossilized our parameters in this regressive human limited present for something like eternity. Oh, No, it was nothing at all.”

The album also warned of slipping into despair from a regard of humanity as devoid of love (accurate to where she’d stood in her mind when she’d given up on life as an inversion) with “The Last Thing You Should Do”. It was one of the best pieces of advice she ever listened to. Bowie had a way of making her nervous. He was also the first artist she’d ever dreamed about serially.