Today I did something that had been planned for about a year. Today I got a David Bowie lyric tattoo on my left arm.
Here’s the thing; Bowie’s my favorite musician ever and his music is everything to me.
On January 11, 2016 the world found out we had lost him. On January 12, my editor at MaineToday.com/Portland Press Herald challenged me to write about it. At first I resisted because I was so sad I didn’t think I could pull myself together to put together anything cohesive. But I decided it was probably a good idea so I essentially opened up an emotional vein and let it flow out of me. Here’s what it looked like.
I spent the next several days crying off and on but also thinking about some of the incredible Bowie related experiences I was fortunate enough to have enjoyed and slowly started to put myself together. Though it took several months before I could listen to “Blackstar.”
I thought about the time my lifelong friend Matt Rosen and I flew to Chicago for two days to see the “David Bowie Is” exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago on Halloween weekend of 2014. This is the same Matt that slept out on the sidewalk with me outside a record store in Lowell, MA to get tickets to the “Glass Spider” tour of 1987.
Soon after that terrible day in 2016 that started off with a phone call from my friend and fellow Bowie fanatic Sarah telling me about DB’s death, my friend Becky Mokos and I decided we were going to get Bowie lyrics tattoos. Becky and I have been friends since seventh grade. Neither one of us are over losing Bowie and I know we never will be.
About six months ago we decided to set things in motion and began the process of selecting what line we would each decide to get. Many texts were exchanged on this topic. MANY.
Several came to mind all at once because there are SO MANY songs that resonate with me. But after some initial thought, I knew it would have to be one from my favorite album, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”
There isn’t a song on this record that I don’t absolutely adore. Sidebar, while in London in 2007, I tracked down the location of where this album cover was shot and stood on it. It was a truly magical moment at 23 Heddon Street. There’s still a phone booth there (picture on the back of the album of DB standing in it) and although it’s not the original one, it too was full of magic and plenty of Bowie graffiti.
Fast forward to about two months ago. At a surprise birthday party for my friend Lee I started chatting with a woman named Cyndi Lou. Turns out, she’s a tattoo artist and a Bowie fan. Ten minutes into our convo, I knew I had found our artist and texted Becky immediately with the good news.
Cyndi Lou is an artist at Tsunami Tattoo in downtown Portland, ME. The place sort of reminds me of a Buddhist temple and it’s a very special place.
In a word, Cyndi’s awesome. Read more about her here.
Becky and I checked our calendars and reached out to Cyndi and today, April 2, 2017 was the big day.
The song I chose is “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.” I chose it because I’ve listened to it hundreds of times and it still kills me every time, especially the ending. If you’re not familiar with it, take a listen.
Here are some of the lyrics:
Oh no love! You’re not alone
You’re watching yourself but you’re too unfair
You got your head all tangled up but if I could only make you care
Oh no love! You’re not alone
No matter what or who you’ve been
No matter when or where you’ve seen
All the knives seem to lacerate your brain
I’ve had my share, I’ll help you with the pain
You’re not alone…
But it’s the dramatic, final 30 seconds of the song that reach directly into my heart and soul. And so, today I got this line tattoed on my left arm:
gimme your hands ’cause you’re wonderful
And here’s a shot of it moments after Cyndi Lou finished it. It has to heal but I wanted to share this now because I’m so happy about it.
Lest there be any doubt about my love for DB, here’s my license plate.
I didn’t know how much losing David Bowie would impact me but I sort of feel forever changed. But I also feel so grateful for knowing and loving his music so much. I also really love that Becky and I did this together. BTW, here’s what she had done on her upper left arm and I love it.
At this moment, the sun is starting to do down and my arm is stinging just a little. When I look down on it, it fills my heart up. I needed this tattoo and needed it to be this exact line in this exact location so I can see it all the time.
When music is the most important thing to you, you sometimes go to great lengths to do something some might consider extreme. As for me, I did what I did today without hesitation and with my heart full of love for David Bowie and what his music means to me.
GIMME YOUR HANDS ‘CAUSE YOU’RE WONDERFUL.