Look Up: How David Bowie Helped Me See

By Amy Lyons


We were a football field of fans awaiting the leper messiah’s entrance.  The crowd erupted and surged hard; you had to move with the human wave or risk a limb crushing. I was confused. I wasn’t seeing what everyone else was seeing because I was looking in the spot where I was supposed to look, staring at the stage and scanning it for my hero, the man with God-given ass.

Then I looked up into the night sky and saw Bowie descending from the belly of the arachnid—a giant spider that told the tour’s story—sitting coolly on a throne, smiling wide, and commanding attention with his on-high stillness.

My mother died five years before Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour. Her death turned me into a wreck of a teenager, a kid in search of reasons, a Catholic school misfit who paired standard issue school-girl jumpers with Doc Martens and a red electric guitar. But when I saw Bowie drop from the sky in a devilish red suit, I became instantly overwhelmed with the certainty that I was not alone; being a motherless rock freak amidst Top 40 prom queens made me different but it did not make me less than. I didn’t have to enter stage right or stage left, I could find my own way in.

If Bowie’s Glass Spider entrance surprised and inspired me, his exit from this earthly plane shocked me to my core. There’s a new wind of grief blowing through my life right now as my father ages and I struggle to accept that he can no longer function in the way he used to. He raised three daughters on his own and now he has trouble leaving the house.

I want Bowie back. I want my mother back. I want a stronger version of my father back. I can’t have any of those things, but I can keep rocking, keep writing, and keep looking up. Just when I think I know how things will go, royalty drops from the heavens.  

Amy Lyons is a Virginia-based writer. From 2010-2012, she was a regular contributor to LA Weekly's Theatre section and she served a term as Vice President of the LA Drama Critics Circle. She was nominated in 2015 for UCLA Extension's Kirkwood Literary Prize, and her nominated story is part of a collection in progress.