As Long As I Can Walk I´ll Walk Beside You
She caught me sitting in my tincan, and Life changed forever. I miss David Bowie, I miss Him much. I was in good care when He was there.
It was a summer night and I was in bed, a stockbett in the kinderzimmer. My little sister slept in the bed above me, she was very little. I had the duvet pulled over my head and held a tiny radio close to my ear, not to wake her up. There were no earphones then, not in my parents´ flat. I listened to Radio Luxemburg, must have been midwave, transmission was bad, like from outer space, there was much hissing and screeching, but it was better than nothing. Austrian Radio was nothing, apart from the voice of a motherly lady called Eva Maria Kaiser and her once-a-week hitparade. Anyway, she never played Him. Not when I was listening.
I listened to Radio Luxemburg `cause it seemed out there. Out there was good. In here was awful and the teenage fear the awfulness of Austrian small town life in 1969 might never change was an ever-present nightmare.
Then lightning struck twice. First, a song with the words “it´s me that you need“ made it through, a simple song, clear voice, descreet instruments. It had to be simple with clear voice, or it wouldn´t have made it through the screeches. I later found out the voice belonged to Elton John. It was special. It must have been special; after all, I still remember it today, 45+ years on. Still, it didn´t really matter then, because next transmission was what sounded like an SOS from somewhere far away, I mean: really far away. There was “groundcontrol to major tom“ and this Tom guy seemed out of control, but not in a panicky way. He seemed to dig it. And, strangely, he appeared to be sitting in a tincan. It was incredibly moving and even more confusing. The tincan was confusing, it made no sense, yet it was unforgettable.
A few days later my father put a glass in my hand and filled it with alcohol, he´d never done that before. We must celebrate, he said, mankind just walked on the moon. He said “mankind“, he didn´t say “America“ or “an American astronaut“, he said “mankind“, as in “we, the humans“. But I just knew that the man on the moon was a lonely guy called Major Tom, and now it turned out he was somebody blessed. I was in awe.
10 years later, on a late evening in Easter 79, I sat behind the DJ decks of the Orange Club on the Greek island of Ios. It wasn´t exactly decks, it was a plain record player, there were some 20 seconds of silence between the songs, I took my time to take a record off and another on and carefully sink the needle onto the vinyl.
I was in trouble. My girlfriend had run off with a German traveller and the Orange Club was full with people and I was numb and far out. I put “Station to Station“ on, right from the start, and the train got going and a minute later the instruments joined in and another minute later He took over, as it was and always will be.
The music was loud and the air full of smoke and my mind somewhere out there and it felt like waking up from a nothingness when I heard a voice, right next to my ear, a female voice.
“Here you are, sitting in your tincan“, she said.
She had a most beautiful face and smiled a warm smile and her Henna hair looked insane, quite Aladdinsane. She wore a turquoise plastic overall and matching eyeline and looked out of place, you couldn´t look more out of place than wearing a turquoise plastic overall and Aladdin Sane hair on a Greek island in Easter `79. I looked into her eyes, they were jade green, and she looked into mine and there were no words for a wishless eternity. The song had ended and I did not notice, so the needle went on and on and eventually the needle reached the place where His lovely voice sang “just as long as I can walk I´ll walk beside you, I´m alive in you“. I hadn´t managed a smile in a while, but now it broke free like a ray of sun piercing stubborn fog, and this beautiful stranger mirrored my smile. She put her arm around my head and her fingers stroked my hair and my life changed forever.