As I’m sure most of my readers already know, David Bowie’s death was announced yesterday. As with much of the rest of the world, I am deeply, deeply saddened. Bowie was a rare pop music artist who transcended simple musical success and made his mark as an artist, an actor, an activist and even a savvy businessman.
My first exposure to Bowie was when I was a wee lad obsessed with NASA and space travel, and the song, “Space Oddity” became a radio hit. Any song about an astronaut would grab my attention, and it may well have informed my musical tastes for the rest of my life.
“Golden Years” cemented him as a musician of whom I was a fan, and later in my teens, after I became way more obsessed with music, I snapped up the “Young Americans” and “Ziggy Stardust” albums along with my first Beatles and Zappa albums.
I had not quite reached the level of maturity necessary to fully appreciate his Berlin trilogy, but “Scary Monsters” was a mind-blowing revelation. His continual musical and visual transformations spanned such a wide variety of different levels of an styles that it will be hard for future generations to comprehend that he was just one man. From sphisticated and edgy Art-Rock to number one, radio-friendly hits, he navigated the tides of changing tastes like a magician.
His influence on the local music scene has been so great that in recent years we’ve had two major local tributes to his music, one, a memorable Empty Glass concert by Ann Magnuson backed by Chuck Biel and Ryan Kennedy among others, the other an annual “Goodnight” performance by Ryan Hardiman with Maddie Gourevitch, Mark scarpelli and a string quartet.
Now he’s gone, leaving behind a legacy of unbelievable creativity, capped off by what may be the most perfectly-executed swansong with his “Blackstar” album, released on his birthday, just two days before his death. That’s the video for the title track at the head of this post. At the end you will see the gut-wrenching video for “Lazarus.”
There are far more comprehensive obituaries, and far more personal farewells to David Bowie all over the internet, but I wanted to add my thoughts here, out of respect for an artist who always maintained a high level of class and dignity, even when he was being deliberately ridiculous.People rarely speak of his sense of humor, but David Bowie was capable of being one of the funniest men on the planet. We can only thank him and mourn our loss.