space oddity

Remembering David Bowie and his unintentional relationship with sport

I’ll be honest I know very little, if nothing at all, about the life of David Bowie. I have latched on to many music icons including Elvis, Nina Simone, Freddie Mercury, Oasis & the Stone Roses to name a few, but never really Bowie. I could never explain why but I suppose it doesn’t matter. Bowie came to me later than the others. Elvis I listened to since I was biting ankles, Freddie I discovered at primary school and Oasis were the same. Nina and the Roses were my true high school sweet hearts, but Bowie arrived upon my years at University.

I knew all the classics, and I loved them truth be told; Rebel Rebel, Heroes, Starman, Let’s Dance & Life on Mars. All classics in their own way and by their own unique merit but one song affected me in a way that no song had before or since. I remember the very first time I heard this Bowie track.

Space Oddity brought me to a stand still. I was in my car driving back from Stirling University in my first year as a student; I think I was listening to Absolute Classic Rock, or something, and then I heard it. Those dulcet tones, the strumming of the guitar and the military drum.

I pulled into the lay-by, parked the car and cried. I sobbed my eyes out. I didn’t know what the song was about (my guess was space), I recognised Bowie’s iconic vocals but I had never heard anything like it in my life, and I strongly suspect I never will.

The guitar solo, the clap of the hands; majestic.

I could never truthfully say I was a Bowie fan. I don’t own a single album of his, I wouldn’t know anything cover to cover, but by God did that song strike me.

I rushed home, fired up the laptop and searched the track on YouTube.

I thought, ‘I wonder if he knew, sitting in his chair with the big boots and the orange/red hair, that he was untouchable then, and always?’.

I consider myself a music fan. I know a thing or two, but I’ve never heard anything like this. I feel sorry for the true Bowie faithful because if I’m so devastated by his two year anniversary having only been moved by one truly great song then God only knows how the others feel.

To tie this in with the page I should conclude by emphasizing the lasting impression Bowie has made on sports through his iconic career in the music industry. Many of Bowie’s tracks can be heard over the tannoy at sports grounds across the country. His music get’s the crowd going, because everyone and their granny and their granny’s cat knows those tracks. But one song stands above all others in the realm of sport.

Heroes was released on the 23 September 1977. The story goes that the song was inspired by Bowie’s producer Tony Visconti embracing one of Bowie’s backing vocalists by the Berlin Wall. After witnessing such a sight Bowie wrote a song which told the story of two lovers, one from East Berlin and the other from West Berlin. Bowie performed the track at the German Reichstag in Berlin (West Berlin) on the 6 June 1987. This performance was later considered as a catalyst to the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall, which had divided the East from the West since 1961. The German government recognised and thanked Bowie upon his death on 10 January 2016 for “helping to bring down the Wall”, they added “you are now among Heroes”.

Coming away from the songs political and ideological strong hold, the track is recognised by sports fans the world over as one that has accompanied a montage of victory parades, concluded the end of show slow motion short film and encompassed sports greatest moments, athletes and team performances. It is a song that is likely picked in the Top 5 marathon training song, and will most likely be your song of choice as you victoriously cross the finish line. Everyone wants their ‘Heroes’ moment.

It’s no surprise that when London hosted the Olympic games in 2012 that Team GB rocked up to the London Stadium to the sound of Bowie’s Heroes. It’s a British anthem all on it’s own. Every time a gold medal was added to the GB table we heard it again, and again, and again, and again. 29 times to be exact, and then some.

Biblical in every way. Uniqueness personified. Rest in Peace David Bowie.

Commencing countdown, engines on (five, four, three)
Check ignition and may God’s love be with you (two, one, liftoff)