Bowie: where are we now?

It was a tweet from his son Duncan Jones that alerted me – and quite a few thousand others, to the stunning news that David Bowie had made his first album for more than a decade.

“Who wants to know a secret?” he teased at midnight New York time, 5.00 am here in the UK.

Two hours later, when the mainstream media had caught up with Twitter, the Today programme played a 50-second snatch of Where Are We Now, the haunting new single released by Bowie today – his 66th birthday.

The man who broke most social and cultural taboos in his early career is now a national icon, a treasure even.

I was an early adopter, joining the Bowie fan club back in 1970, as a gauche 13 year old looking for some meaning in my rural backwater. I got a letter of welcome from his then wife Angie – a piece of history I managed to lose in my frantic, early adult years.

The rest of the world caught up with me when the man who changed the world burst into the nation’s living rooms in the summer of 1972 .

He and Mick Ronson flirted their way through Starman on Top of the Pops and thousands of teenagers across the UK, gay, straight, confused, fell in love with Bowie. Many of us have remained faithful.

I last saw him live in Glasgow, just before the heart attack that forced him to retreat to his New York apartment.

I never thought I would experience the thrill of a new Bowie single, or suffer the anticipation of a new album again. I thought he was too ill, or worn out, or simply had had enough.

We might have know that our hero was working. Thinking about his life. Our lives.

The video for Where Are We Know is haunting. It made me cry, it makes me sad thinking about it. Bowie’s face is etched with sadness, pain, fear even. There is no blue eyeshadow. No wham, bam thank you ma’am. Just an older man, “walking the dead”.

Time may ch-ch-change all of us, but David Bowie is still the coolest man on the planet.

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