She’s got a ticket to nowhere… She’s gonna take a train ride…

In the version of this video that I saw as a kid, the child is playing with blocks that spell out “Mom,” “Look,” and “Luck.” As a deep-thinking 12-year-old, I took this as a kind of irony; that the child who was learning how to spell “luck” certainly didn’t have any.

In this version of the video, the “L” in “Luck” is replaced with an “F.” According to Wikipedia this was the original shot; it was later modified to get around censors, like many of the scenes in this video.

I can’t say this song was my introduction to Bowie; but it was where my awareness of Bowie started. Somehow, I heard this single, and the Never Let Me Down record, and clung to it. In a way, I never let it go — or I never let the Bowie catalogue, which I soon came to know, go. Over the years, it’s faded in and out — day in, day out, sometimes I listened to Bowie, sometimes I didn’t, there were entire years when the work wasn’t a part of my consciousness. But whenever I found it again, it was like oxygen. Or a sugar or caffeine rush, with no crash.

The year that Never Let Me Down was released, 1987, Bowie was on the cover of the Style issue of Rolling Stone. I treasured that issue and kept it for many years. It took me ages to read the accompanying interview. I worked through it with a dictionary. Part of me wants to find that interview again, so I can be reminded of what vocabulary was placed in my 6th (7th?) grade brain as a result of David Bowie.

One word I know I can credit learning to David Bowie, although exactly when I’m not sure: “suffragette.”