The person I’ve known in my life who loved David Bowie best was my friend Patrick. Patrick was a hugely smart and talented tech-industry consultant who in his youth was a fixture on the local music scene, a keyboardist and songwriter. Music became his avocation instead, but he never stopped seeing it as his potential salvation. He was at once an insecure person and an exhibitionist, an occasional cross-dresser who loved The Rocky Horror Picture Show, karaoke, extravagant debates, Stephen Fry, cocktails and sometimes, unfortunately, greater excessess. He was the kind of friend who could feel like the most intimate person in the world one night and almost a stranger the next.
Patrick once argued to me that to play “Heroes” as just another upbeat, motivational song (the way it's often used on film soundtracks and the like) was an act of blasphemy. Without its melancholy irony, it lost its sacred self-consciousness. This was what distinguished Bowie from the rock generation that had preceded him—where they had laid out rock’s scripture, the Torah, he was writing the Talmud, an exegesis, turning the known interpretations on their heads.* Peace and love became sex and disquiet. His songs were unstable, provisional: We could be heroes, yes, but just for one day. The ephemeral was the eternal: These are an aesthete’s articles of faith.