2000s – part one

Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth…
‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide’, 1972

David Bowie and Iman’s daughter, Alexandria Zahra Jones, known as Lexi, was born on 15 August 2000.

Two months before her birth, Bowie did the previously-unthinkable, and gave up smoking. However, the abstinence did not last long, and he was smoking Marlboro Lights once again by October 2000.

Ahead of that year’s Glastonbury Festival appearance he scheduled three warm-up shows at New York’s Roseland Ballroom, the last of which was cancelled after Bowie contracted laryngitis.

He had reportedly contracted a number of minor ailments in the previous weeks, as his body responded to the temporary absence of nicotine.

Bowie fully embraced fatherhood and was attentive and committed, in a way that he hadn’t always been during some of his son’s earliest years. His work rate intentionally slowed down as he devoted more time to his family.

I really, really love it. To be honest, I really have to pull myself together weekly to focus on my music that sometimes it almost feels like a distraction. The music, I mean. But I think I’m beginning to find a sense of balance between daddyfying and workifying. Mind you, the next album might have lyrics like: “the wheels on the bus go round and round…”
David Bowie
BowieNet chat, 4 June 2001
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Bowie’s addiction to cigarettes was finally broken for good in 2002.

Smoking was just something I did all the time and I got really fed up with it controlling my life.

I probably wouldn’t have made a conscious effort to live more healthily until Lexie came along. I wanted to be there for her – to be able to run out in the garden with her.

David Bowie
Daily Mirror, 29 June 2002

In the same interview he spoke about his struggles with depression, and how Iman had helped him overcome social anxiety and shyness.

I certainly had a personality crisis because of the catastrophe of drugs addiction and its aftermath.

I used to slip easily into deep, deep depressions, really manically depressed. I’d then swing the other way and become incredibly euphoric. I wasn’t in control of it at all. I often get pangs of isolation and all that, particularly in the very early morning, but it doesn’t haunt me as such any more.

I was a kid that loved being in my room reading books and entertaining ideas. I lived a lot in my imagination. It was a real effort to become a social animal. That’s why I loved drugs so much. On drugs, once you started talking you never stopped – whether there was anybody with you or not! And you’d wake up with a very sore jaw.

Now I don’t have a problem going to dinner with people. I always refused before, because I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t think I was terribly interesting.

David Bowie
Daily Mirror, 29 June 2002

Later that summer he took part in a Q&A with fans for Blender magazine, in which he attributed his former drug abuse to his efforts in overcoming the shyness.

The biggest misconception about me is that I have no sense of humor. I probably was a bit [serious] – but only because I’m very shy. That’s probably one of the reasons I got so heavily into drugs: When you’re doing coke, you talk enough for several people…

I was fairly drug-free right up to seventy… four. Ha! Which is not very long, is it? [Laughs] Strangely enough, all the techniques and the things I was trying to do, I got interested in before I started doing drugs. So it’s conceivable that I’d try a lot of the same techniques. What the outcome would have been, I don’t know. Maybe I would never have touched the darkest corners in quite the same way. Although I know that I can, and do, write fairly strange music without the aid of drugs.

David Bowie
Blender, August 2002

He also gave a joint interview with model Kate Moss to Q magazine, in which they discussed their current vices and past indulgences.

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Moss: What’s your drug of choice?

Bowie: Now? Coffee. French roast. Then? Bloody hell, girl! I was just getting into harder drugs when you were born… I’m still addictive… I just do it with work now – as a way of not thinking too deeply about myself and my situation. I’m not terribly good at that. Iman can go through dinner with just one glass of wine. I can’t do that, so I haven’t drunk for 14 years.

Moss: I still drink, but I don’t do drugs.

Bowie: The tough one, frankly, is nicotine. That’s a nightmare. Let’s see: speed was easy. At the moment I’m addicted to tea tree sticks. They’re from an Australian tree and I go through packets of them… try one.

Moss: But speed’s horrible anyway… [Moss tries a tea tree stick] Ughh! Not for me.

Bowie: Coke was quite tough, alcohol is difficult. But nicotine takes the cake. There are 437 different drugs in a cigarette all designed to ensure you can’t refuse one.

Q: You sound quite sanguine about drugs. Not the usual, “They’re awful, never again”, line. You sound like you actually got something out of them.

Bowie: I don’t know if drugs helped my work. I don’t buy into the theory you have to be stoned to create. I think Low, “Heroes” and Scary Monsters… were my best and they were all drug-free. I slipped around Let’s Dance, which some would say was not my best album. And personally I think I found myself again as a writer in the ’90s and that’s all drug-free… But, Kate, was any of it good for you?

Moss: Yeah, definitely. I had a great time. But then there’s a major low point. But some of it was great, for sure…

Bowie: If I could have held the perception I had in the early part of doing drugs – to realise you are seeing something or seeing or feeling something you never felt before and remember it – then that would be great. Because after that it’s just repetition, trying to repeat the high. And that’s where excess kicks in.

Q magazine, October 2003