David Robert Jones
8 Jan, 47 – 10 Jan, 16
Known professionally as David Bowie
It is sometimes what we perceive to be the strangest of people who turn out to be the most well-balanced of them all, and none more so true than with this man.
I'll start by offering a link to his Proust Questionnaire answers, published in Vanity Fair back in August, 1998, which is both enlightening and a fun read.
David loved to read, so be sure and check out his list of 75 must-reads that follows the questionnaire.
Now, I'll be honest and admit that not only am I still on the fence about Mr. Bowie and his music, I'm also just as stunned by my reaction to the news of his passing.
He was never a favorite of mine, but I did enjoy some of his music, which doesn't seem like enough enthusiasm for the news of his death to have this strong of an impact on me.
Die-hard fans of punk will know that Punk began back in the 70's (not the 90's), and with guys like David and The Stooges (Iggy Pop).
They both appalled and kind of terrified me with their weird hair, the make-up, outlandish clothing, and David's acid-trippy Ziggy Stardust type of music.
It was weird. Not my cup of tea, thank you. I'll pass.
But, there was also this, from 1975:
|Young Americans (RCA)|
Now, this was what you could call my kind of David Bowie fandom music.
I was in middle school at the time and coming to terms with the death of Motown and the startling advent of disco while punk loomed gloomy in the background (underground, actually).
It also seemed that I would have to put up with Rock & Roll forever.
Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Aerosmith, Blue Öyster Cult, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and the like, they all filled the airwaves and my ears for as long as I could remember, and I never really cared for any of it.
In high school, late 70's, it was pretty much the same thing, and everyone still roamed the hallways in iron-on's (t-shirts) that depicted their favorite band. Some even went so far as to try and emulate their favorite member of Kiss, but most of the boys wore their hair like Rod Stewart -- the shag. A style that would later grow in length and volume as new, louder, and more angry bands hit the slim pickins airwaves.
Disco was big, and the impact it had on my generation was the stuff of black-eye legend.
You either loved it or loathed it, and those who loved it were teased mercilessly by anyone who loathed it.
I secretly loathed both.
I felt like there was something missing in the world of music, and I kept lusting for something different -- until the late 70's, when jazz-infused R&B arrived on the FM dial in Detroit and I was saved.
That empty feeling rang true for more than just the music being played at that time, too.
Everything that I had ever admired as a child in the late 60's and early 70's and couldn't wait to try once I was old enough had suddenly become dated; replaced with new trends that left me yearning for 'the good, old days' in my early to late teens.
Bell bottom hip-huggers became high-waist, straight leg jeans, and colorful, flowery, bold-print materials on flouncy mini skirts and short dresses became bland, earthtone everything.
Brown this, beige that, creme this, tan that, off-white this, and mud that.
Unless you enjoyed Disco, and then it was silky, shiny, satiny, glittery gaudy all the way.
Blue eye shadow, fake lashes, and glimmering pink lips had become Au Naturale (nude tones), and lipstick or fake anything was suddenly a thing of the past.
Unless you were into the Punk scene and then you walked around wearing black or blue make-up (pre Goth era) with safety pins stuck in your skin and dared anyone who gaped at you to say something about it.
Long, straight hairstyles became short, pixie-like do's, and the perm took center stage even if you were born with naturally curly hair! The punker's used egg whites to make theirs stand on end in plain or painted rooster tail styles.
There just weren't any respectable, I-can-live-with-this in between's in the fashion-statement world for someone like me: always on the outside looking in.
Now, I never blamed David or Iggy for this debacle in my coming-of-age story gone wrong, and in the 80's, I changed right along with David when he paired with Queen in 1981 for the one-off single release, Under Pressure.
and THIS was something I could live with and even like!
It improved when, in 1983, this debuted
It's almost impossible to hear or see this album and not immediately get the song going in your head.
A year later, Bowie worked with The Pat Metheny Group to record
This Is Not America ~ The Falcon and the Snowman soundtrack
A song that still gives me the chills and makes me move, it's that good.
In other words, David had transformed to become someone new and different; more mature and approachable, if you will.
He became someone I could like; someone who's music now entertained and enlightened me.
Or, maybe it was because I'd exited my teen years and had matured?
Anyway, I've spent the better part of today searching about and learning even more of this man's life, his work and accomplishments, and frankly, I am happy for him.
He led a full, industrious life and is well-read, so what more do I need to say?
To conclude, I leave you with my number-one pick in the David Bowie library of music: a set-to-loop tune from his Young Americans lp.
Excuse me now, while I go off to shed some tears that have been building up since this morning. Apparently, my Elvis has left the building. :(