BOWIE

Last week was a struggle. I’d planned on quitting my job by Jan 4th and taking a few months off. But plans changed and my escape from corporate banality was delayed. It got all the more depressing when a reminder popped up on my phone (which I’d put there in June, 2015), which read: “YOU QUIT YOUR JOB TODAY!!!”

I came tumbling off The Wagon over the weekend – the call of Manhattan (the drink, not the place) was too strong.

Take Two, I thought. Let’s get back on this donkey and ride it out of Shitsville.

This morning I get a text from my best friend:

IMG_6084

My initial thought was that he didn’t like the new album. It’s a grower, for sure, but I reckon it’s got some of his best tunes since Let’s Dance. Although, the lazy reviews that refer to Blackstar as a “jazz” album because it has a few saxophone solos on are way off. It’s a weird, beautiful collection of songs.

So, sipping on black coffee, I went to bbc.com and 2016 got very bleak indeed.

Fuck. Bowie. Jesus. Bowie. 

I get a little sick of the barrage of shit posts about how the death of a celebrity like, really personally affects them, man. But in this instance, it just broke my heart. Of course, he’s old and he’s had an incredible life, but still…Bowie? 

Between 1970 and 1980, he released 12 albums, and (with the possible exception of Pip Ups) they were all brilliant. I started with the obvious – Ziggy Stardust. My parents bought me the CD for my thirteenth birthday. I was sick then. Vomiting bug.

I still can’t really listen to Five Years without wanting to blow chunks (bringing that phrase back – deal with it). That was some unfortunate Pavlovian conditioning.

But by the time it got to Moorage Daydream and you can hear Mick Ronson’s guitar pretty much breaking, I was sold.

From then on, his back-catalogue was a wonderful voyage of discovery. Aladdin Sane still sounds dangerous.

Diamond Dogs still sounds grandiose – a gothic, glam masterpiece.

Young Americans is just what music should fucking sound like.

And Station To Station…Christ, there’s the killer.

“It’s not the side effects of the cocaine / I’m thinking that it must be love

I have yet to hear a better lyric.

But wait a minute…Bowie’s not done yet. The Berlin trilogy (of which “Heroes” is probably my favourite) flicks between unhinged pop music and sweeping, krautrock soundscapes.

This is the same guy who released Changes only 6 years previous.

Scary Monsters. Robert Fripp at the top of his game and Bowie in a clown suit. I’ll take that.

And then, finally, yields to the lure of pop music and releases Let’s Dance. Which is also fucking gold (although the Moroder-produced single of Cat People tops the album version).

From then on, things get a little rough. The eighties.

Tin Machine.

I’m not even going to talk about Tin Machine.

Despite the fact the nineties weren’t terribly well regarded, if I’ve had one wine spritzer too many at a party and someone’s dumb enough to allow me near the stereo, I’ll put on his Earthling album and wax lyrical about its underrated genius. But I’m sober right now, so you’ll have to make up your own mind.

I went to the Bowie exhibition at the V&A, a few years ago. He kept everything in pristine condition. Lyrics and coke spoons in glass cases. The boiler suit from the Outside-era. It was surprisingly intimate.

In an industry rife with dickheads, he always came across a lovely chap.

Dies two days after releasing the best album of the year. Typical fucking Bowie.

I always felt Bowie was borrowed, like he wasn’t of this world. I guess we had to give him back someday.

24 comments

  1. Nice tribute, I wasn’t a super fan, but appreciated a lot of his songs and his contribution to the pop culture zeitgeist in general. Words like legend and icon are thrown around a bit these days , but he was both separately and at the same time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The older you get, the younger 69 seems. When your heroes start dying of health problems instead of overindulgence… you’re a grown-up for real. And sometimes that fact doesn’t just stare you coldly in the eye, it slaps you hard enough to leave a mark.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I feel like it was just the other day I saw Michael C. Hall on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert singing a Bowie song. When entertainers that make up the backdrop of our lives die, it’s more than just about them. Their work starts to become the past instead of the present. It’s always strange. Beautiful tribute 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Borrowed from Malcolm McDowell, no doubt. 😉 There is no denying the magic of his voice, his perfectly unique style and the undeniable magnetism that WAS David Jones Bowie. My sons are very sad today.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I felt sad when I heard the news on the radio this morning (Bowie was special because I stole all my dad’s tapes when I was little and he got really mad at me at first but it was a cool musical moment because he realised I was playing them not pulling out all the actual tape like my three year old brother had done the weekend before) but this post damn near broke my heart all over again.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. For people of a certain age, Bowie’s music was simply part of the background of their life – in the same way that Elvis, John Lennon, and Michael Jackson were. They’re the ‘do you remember where you were when you heard….. had died?’ moments. Elvis: I was eating toast for breakfast in a sunny Surrey room, with the neighbour’s horse poking his head through the window. I cried, because I still hoped I might one day be able to save up enough money to see him live in ‘Vegas… John Lennon: heard someone talking about it on the bus on the way home from the Doctor’s surgery (I had a chest infection). I cried, because the man who wrote ‘Imagine’ was gone. Michael Jackson: just about to log off my computer and go up to bed when I a newsflash item caught my eye. I went up to my husband (who was already in bed) in tears, and said ‘Michael Jackson’s only bloody died!’ – I was upset because (a) he’d died after all the **** that got thrown at him, and (b) we had tickets to his tour. David Bowie: woken up by my husband who’d seen it on the early morning news. I remember buying ‘Aladdin Sane’ & feeling very grown up… the piano section on ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ still sends shivers down my spine. Remember cramming into a mini (the original kind, not the BMW imposter) with 6 other people when I was working away from home & how we drove down to the local cinema to see ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’. Remember loving ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’ for Bowie as much as Ryuichi Sakamoto’s beautiful music… So now David Bowie is gone, too. I didn’t cry this time – I’m kind of getting used to all the icons of my youth leaving me behind, perhaps- but I’m very sad all the same. ‘We shall not see his like again’ (or words to that effect).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. LIke Mark Ruffalo said ” He was the father of all freaks” and who knew there were so many of us. We all knew how great he was, not of this World, but I guess we didn’t know that it would affect us so much. Personally speaking, of course .

    Liked by 1 person

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