bowie_Jramones

To the Man Who Sold the World

The kNOw Jan 20, 2016

Jarrett Ramones

Painting by Jarrett Ramones

Editor’s Note: British rock legend David Bowie died this past week, leaving a lasting legacy that touched millions around the globe, including right here in Fresno. In this letter to the late musician, actor and fashion icon, The kNOw youth reporter Jarrett Ramones shares how Bowie’s music provided the soundtrack to a life measured by the “distance between rented spaces.” Jarrett recommends listening to “Eight Line Poem” to accompany your reading.

You don’t know who I am but you’ve been there my entire life.

It was my dad that first introduced us. My dad loves music (yeah, I know, everybody “loves” music) but seriously, I can remember very few moments with my father that some limited-release extended B-side Temptations track wasn’t playing.

I didn’t notice your presence at first, to be honest. As a kid I mostly remember “Fame” and “Golden Years.” I remember hearing you mentioned in movies my dad and I watched, like “The Wedding Singer” and “Zoolander.”

When my family split up, I was pretty young, and my dad moved the two of us around a lot — after he got married we began moving more often and I spent a lot of time alone listening to music.

I was 14 the first time I heard you sing “Life on Mars”, and I was 21 when you sang it again the night after my dad and I stopped speaking.

In those moments listening to you I felt like I was not alone.

I don’t know how to begin to thank you.

For the nights my friends and I screamed out your lyrics on rooftops, cars and sitting rooms just trying to relieve some pressure.

For the morning we counted down to lift off, flailing our arms in a goofy dance to “Space Oddity” across the floor of our friend’s apartment.

And for when I felt like I couldn’t communicate with the world around me but you had the words I needed.

I don’t know how to say goodbye.

To the man who was the brightest light in the labyrinth and the blackest star in space.

To those of you who knew him best and those like me who didn’t.

I’ve only heard it said well once before —

— To the man who sold the world.

To sir, with love.

J.M.

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