Monday, 11 January 2016

Thank You For The Music: David Bowie

This is NOT an obituary. Top Journo's write the obituaries. This is just one Music Lover's acknowledgment that today we have lost a shining light - not only in the field of Music but all aspects of the visual arts too.

I will say here and now that I am not a total fan of David Bowie. I had a few of his albums - together with ChangesOneBowie & ChangesTwoBowie but a lot of his material left me cold. But some was truly remarkable.

I first came across David Bowie by hearing my cousin Belinda's copy of Hunky Dory. 

I couldn't afford to buy a copy - so I taped it. That was about 1972 I think. I loved its theatricality looking back. I was just getting into Prog and Hunky Dory has some killer songs. Little did I know at the time that Prog God Rick Wakeman is all over the album.  Anyway, I know it was before Bowie's breakthrough performance on Top Of The Tops - his performance of Starman.

It was one of those Iconic moments that only Top Of The Pops could produce. It was the talk of the schoolyard the following day. And it started a spate of haircuts that must have kept the local hairdressers and barbers in hairspray and product for the whole year. I was lucky - Belinda was a hairdresser. The 'Bowie Cut' cost me and cousin Peter nowt. 

From this magnificently camp performance came the Ziggy Stardust album. I didn't enjoy this as much as Hunky Dory and the following several albums left me cold - save for the occasional songs and hit single such as The Jean Genie, Sorrow or Golden Years. And I let my hair grow long.

Where Bowie really got me back into the fold was on the next 3 albums - the Berlin Trilogy of Low, Heroes & Lodger.

This was music I was more in tune with. This was David Bowie at (up to then) his most experimental


Bowie was often great at finding the right collaborator and in Berlin he found a kindred spirit in Brian Eno. They brought the best out of each other at the time to produce three extraordinary albums.

If it was just for his career up to this point, David Bowie would be forever remembered. But there was so much more to him. He was a producer, songwriter for others such as Mott The Hoople, he was a painter and an actor.

Bowie never captured my Imagination to the same extent again. Yes he produced the occasional song that was superb out of leftfield. But by this point it was expected rather than surprising.

I have vivid memories of the great song that Bowie produced with Queen - Under Pressure.

1985 brought Live Aid and Bowie was one of the performers who played a blinder that day. 

He even gave up one of his songs to let the broadcasters play the video of the cars Drive. That one decision by Bowie apparently generated millions of pounds just by showing that one video with one selfless act. Nobody who saw that at the time will ever forget that moment.

Bowie did join forces with my favourite guitarist Pat Metheny for a song from the soundtrack of the film The Falcon & The Snowman called This Is Not America.

But, David Bowie went on to produce more varied and original work.

He was Fearless, He was an Innovator, He was an Inspiration.

In 2013, after a health scare and a ten year absence, Bowie returned to rave reviews with his album The Next Day. This one I liked. It was stately, elegiac and somewhat nostalgic and majestic in places.

And finally, just two days ago, he released his Swansong, Black Star. 
David knew his time was short. He knew it would be his last album. It got rave reviews before it's release. Now it will be dissected in a totally different light. 

He had time to plan his own goodbye. Black Star IS that goodbye. Make of it what you will. It still sees an artist working to push boundaries right up to the final moment.

That is how I will see and remember
David Bowie

Above All - As An Artist.

1 comment:

  1. Nice one Nick. Just reading how Eno and Bowie were talking about how much they both rated 'Outside' and how it "slipped through the cracks". Must re-address.