In 1995, I produced a show we created for VH-1 called Naked Cafe. We traveled around the country, interviewing musical artists as they did non-musical things, usually a hobby or other interest. Sometimes I did the interviewing, more often my partner did the interview while I ran a second camera.
Through my lens I saw The Rolling Stones and REM and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page and Tony Bennett and Joni Mitchell and John Lee Hooker and Sting and Bonnie Raitt and many others. Meeting my heroes was exciting. In person, sometimes these legends were kind and gracious, other times they were horrendous windbags.
Deep into our second season, our booker announced that we would be interviewing David Bowie and that we would be speaking with him while he created a painting. Bowie was my ultimate rock god and I was a superfan. I knew immediately that I would not be able to do the interview myself because my nerves would break me down. I passed the interview to our line producer, Bart, while I opted to operate the second camera.
Bowie was on time to shoot with us at an artist's studio on the westside. I met him at the doorway. As we were introduced, my mind's eye was a flip book of the moments in my life that were given a soundtrack by his music. Driving lonely LA freeways with Heroes. Hearing China Girl for the first time and the song erasing the sting from my third grade playground nickname. Running through a sold out arena to Modern Love shaking the walls. 1984 playing at midnight at a crowded '84 New Year's Eve party in a warehouse in San Francisco. In high school, sneaking a small tape recorder into a midnight showing of Man Who Fell to Earth so that I could carry his speaking voice home with me.
He did not travel with an entourage that day. He enjoyed painting on a giant canvas stretched on the floor as he spoke about different schools of art. He was intelligent and interesting and warm and funny. For those two hours, he was more than a rockstar; he was a little bit mine and he was perfect.
This morning, my husband woke me up to tell me the news of David Bowie's passing. I read the texts and the emails from friends. I thought of my friend Donny, a genius musical presence on the new Blackstar album - for him I knew the loss would be personal. I sat with my coffee and wept. My son asked if I was going to cry all day. I answered that I didn't know. Many of us are pulled into sadness by the news today, with our own living soundtracks and memories of David Bowie. He was a little bit all of ours and he was perfect.