Underground

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When I was a kid my brother and I were frequent visitors to the video shop. We’d stroll up and down the aisles and inevitably come home with a selection of movies that we had watched a hundred times before. Dad would wait in the car until one of us ran out and told him we were ready. Then he’d stroll in, sigh at the collection of titles he’d sat through a million times before, put his card on the counter, pay, and we’d go home.

One of the videos we hired again and again was The Labyrinth. Have you seen it? Sarah asks the goblins to take away her squalling brother Toby. Jareth the Goblin King comes and takes Toby, and gives Sarah a time deadline to get to the castle in the middle of the labyrinth so that she can get her brother back. And then, the magic begins.

Jareth is played by David Bowie. His train crash tights in Labyrinth made me giggle stupidly as a kid, but we knew all the words and all the moves to this movie. It’s still a favourite, and I now have the DVD version sitting in my drawer, waiting for my sister to arrive tomorrow for a tribute session.

The song everyone knows from Labyrinth is Dance Magic Dance. But the one I love is Underground. Here it is:

Bowie singing this one has always sent me back to being a kid watching videos with my brother. The Labyrinth has and always will be a favourite for my family. I wish I could let mum know that the Goblin King has died, but I guess she’ll see him soon.

It’s only forever, not long at all; lost and lonely, that’s underground.

That’s the bitch of all this, isn’t it. When someone leaves it really is forever. But how long is that?

I saw some social media warrior post something about how ironic it was that now David Bowie has died everyone is suddenly his biggest fan. I don’t claim to be his biggest fan. But his music, especially in Labyrinth, was the soundtrack to my childhood. The soundtrack to having mum. The soundtrack to the time before adulthood and being all grown up.

So even though I’ve never written about David Bowie before, just indulge me while I remember the way life was in that childhood time.

Vale, David Bowie. And thank you for the music, the attitude, the bravery, the willingness.

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