January 11, 2016

A Starman Falls To Earth

David Bowie died of liver cancer late Sunday night, two days after he turned 69.

During a musical career that spanned nearly 50 years, he managed to change musical styles practically as often as he released albums.  From glam to funk and soul to blues to electronica to rock to new wave to industrial and back again, one never really knew what you'd be hearing when you popped in a new Bowie disc.  My first real exposure to his work came in his "new wave" period, with the 1983 album, Let's Dance

In many ways, Let's Dance is both the best and worst way to be introduced to Bowie.  It's easily his most accessible work, being unabashedly pop-flavored... and it and 1984's Tonight are rather unlike the darker, more thoughtful work he produced before and after.  Ironically, the short movie/music video for "Jazzing For Blue Jean" off Tonight earned him his only Grammy out of 10 nominations. (he was given a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2006).  I went into my next taste of Bowie's music thinking he was a slightly lightweight musician.

This is many things, but lightweight pop is not one of them.  David Bowie is very much like weather in the Midwest... if you don't like it, just wait a short time: it'll change.  But along with his music, the other thing that Bowie was known for was his ever-changing personae.  From Ziggy Stardust to The Thin White Duke to the Scary Goatee Guy to Elder Rock Statesman, again he changed from hither to yon constantly.  At one point in his life he gave an interview where he basically said that "David Bowie is the costume, the thing onstage is the real Me."  In his later career, after he married supermodel Imam and "settled down", he more or less stayed in the Statesman mode.  All the while, he stayed impeccably dressed.

He collaborated with artists like Queen, Mick Jagger, Nine Inch Nails, Peter Frampton, Tina Turner, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Bing Crosby.  Countless artists covered his work.  Countless fans adored him.  I am not particularly a huge fan, to be honest... I own a couple of his CDs, know many of his hits, but beyond that?  There are many others who will write more about him in the coming days, more eloquently and with more knowledge than I can.  This, I admit.  None of this denies the fact that I know that he was a true Rock Icon, and with his passing the music world is greatly diminished.  I also know that he is the musician behind one of my favorite songs of all time.

It felt like David Bowie was immortal.  We know now that wasn't true, to our sorrow.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:43 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 He was a tremendous producer.  I wish he would have had the inclination to produce for other acts at some point; or at least more than he did.  Music in general would be a lot better off now.

Posted by: Ben at January 11, 2016 09:19 PM (DRaH+)

2 I'm highly amused that whoever posted that Suffragette City video on YouTube used the cover from a much, MUCH later album (one of the few I own) rather than the actual Ziggy Stardust album (one of the other few I own) cover.

One of the coolest complete weirdos to ever grace the planet.

Posted by: GreyDuck at January 12, 2016 08:25 AM (rKFiU)

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