Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Bowie

I just thought I'd interrupt my blogging break to put down a few thoughts.

It was just another ordinary Monday morning and as I got ready for work the news stopped me in my tracks.  I'm sure I wasn't the only one to greet the news of David Bowie's death with shock and disbelief.  After all, no-one but those closest to him knew that he had been unwell; but in this modern world where every minute detail of the lives of the world's most fame-hungry celebs is posted online, privacy and dignity are rare and treasured qualities, in life and in death.  Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

It was only a few days ago that the singer's final album "Blackstar" was released and many comments have been made today about the uncanny timing of the album and the prophetic lyrics of its single "Lazarus".

As I grew up in the 70s, my house was always filled with music.  And my mum always had a special place in her heart for David Bowie back in those days.  She was fascinated by his changing image and innovative music; although she was more of a singles than albums fan so that explains why we wore out that vinyl copy of the Best of Bowie, eventually replacing it years later with an updated greatest hits CD .  Her favourite Bowie song was "Drive In Saturday" with "Space Oddity" and "Ashes to Ashes" close behind; whilst my favourites were "Life On Mars", "Starman" and "Golden Years".  She reserved particular hatred for "The Laughing Gnome" which I used to play because I knew it annoyed her so much; and later on, her impersonation of Bowie singing "Alabama Song" used to reduce both of us to a giggling fit.

But Bowie's music moved on and so did we; although our enthusiasm waned for his later material, but we continued to play those classic songs from the 70s.  I lost count of the amount of times that mum watched the Ziggy Stardust concert.  One night whilst watching it she told me that she wished she'd had the opportunity to see him live in the 1970s.  We never did get to see him play live, for whatever reason....but the nearest we got, a few years ago, was when we went along to see a fantastic tribute show called "Ultimate Bowie" by Ed Blaney and his band, which covered every stage of the singer's career in intense detail, right down to costumes, make-up and vocal style.  The number of hardcore Bowie fans at the show spoke volumes about the quality of this guy's performance, and the setlist didn't just include the big hits but also the "fan favourites" which the more casual Bowie fan may not have been aware of.  I hope that Ed and his band will continue to keep this great music alive.

It would be impossible to imagine an artist of David Bowie's calibre breaking through in these times of bland music, when the dullest artists are acclaimed as worldwide stars.  But he made it big at the right time, when his creativity was allowed to flourish and all on his own terms rather than some contrived record company invention.  The fact that his death was the lead item on all our news programmes today proves just how influential, enduring, popular and unique an artist he was.   But I just want to say thank you, Mr Bowie, for soundtracking my 70s childhood.  Your music made us happy, and it will live on.  R.I.P.

No comments: