Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie (1947-2016)

David Bowie had such a beautiful face. Here he is on his 1978 tour.

David Bowie, rocking out on what would be his last tour, 2004.
Before I had heard of David Bowie’s death this morning, I had already been thinking of him today. I was thinking of him while I took my shower. That sounds odd, I know, but I was looking forward to listening to Bowie’s new album “Blackstar” on my way to work. I was thinking, “What will this album sound like? What will I think of it? Will I review it for my blog?” I also thought about how Bowie hadn’t spoken directly to the media in years, and if he would ever change his mind and give another interview again. It was odd, since in the early 2000’s Bowie was a fairly ubiquitous presence in the mass media, and he had suddenly disappeared from view. And it made me a little sad, because Bowie was a smart, funny guy who was a great interview. And then I opened up my computer and learned that he was dead.

David Bowie is one of my favorite musicians. I’ve spent countless hours listening to the music he created. Bowie was the soundtrack to my college years (1999-2003) and much of my life afterwards. When I had my own radio show on the campus radio station, I played Bowie a lot, and in 2003 I did a two-hour all-Bowie show. I’ve still got the tapes of it, and I’m glad I could pay that little tribute to Bowie’s music. It’s tough to think that we’re now living in a world without him. It’s so odd and bizarre to think of David Bowie in the past tense. David Bowie was always so forward looking, there’s no way he can ever be just in the past.

Where do I start with Bowie? What do I say about an artist who has been so important to me over so many years? How do I sum it up in words? It’s a cliché to say that he was constantly reinventing himself, but it was also true. He hardly ever stood still. Once you thought you had his style pinned down, he would change it again.

I saw David Bowie in concert twice, once in Chicago in 2002 and at the Target Center in 2004, on what proved to be his last tour. Those shows were both fantastic, Bowie was one of the most charismatic rock stars ever. And his voice just seemed to get better with age-he was still able to hit those high notes in “Life On Mars?” I’ll always have great memories of those two concerts.

It was fun to see Bowie become part of the pop culture conversation again in 2013 with the release of his comeback album “The Next Day.” He had been gone for so long, and it was great to see how much people still appreciated him. I haven’t written about Bowie much on this blog, (if I would have started blogging in 2000 instead of 2007, it would have been nothing but Bowie!) but I did write about “The Next Day” here, and in 2009 I reviewed his “VH1 Storytellers” DVD.

I got “Blackstar” in the mail from Amazon on Friday afternoon. Then it was Bowie’s latest album. By the time I listened to it on Monday morning, it had become Bowie’s last new album. It was a surreal experience to listen to it today, and while Bowie’s work has always been preoccupied with death, there were so many lines that hit an emotional chord. The most vivid was the opening line of his song “Lazarus”: “Look up here, I’m in heaven.” It was an emotional drive into work today hearing that song.

Bowie’s gift for writing beautiful and haunting songs ensures that his legacy will live on. Few rock stars had such a huge influence on their times, and David Bowie will be remembered as one of the great musicians of the 20th century.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Touching post, Mark. I'm going to be listening to a lot of Bowie today.

--Katie S.