Bowie

January 17, 2016 at 1:09 am (Uncategorized)

It took me a number of attempts to write this post. Every time I had an idea, I’d listen to another Bowie record and change my mind about what I wanted to say. That and besides my dog hurting his leg, and the other deaths this week, it’s just hard to write sometimes.

I didn’t really start to listen to Bowie until the end of what I consider his brilliant phase. If that doesn’t really make sense, let me explain. I grew up in England in the 1970s. Bowie was all over the radio – the singles. For me though, he always lurked in the background. Punk was my formative musical style, and Bowie always had a curious relationship to punk. He was never rejected in the way many of the “old guard” were, but he was never quite a part of it either. And then there were those remarks about Hitler being the first superstar which along with Eric Clapton’s ravings led to the Anti-Nazi League and Rock against Racism.  So, he wasn’t the top of my list.

No, it wasn’t until I moved to Canada that I started to take note of Bowie in a serious way. A friend was heavily into Bowie and Dylan and  that pulled me into that orbit as well. My favourite records? Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory and Heroes.

It’s often been fashionable to call Bowie a chameleon, someone who was always reinventing himself. There’s some truth in that. Bowie seldom sat still, and while some performers would have been content to rest on their laurels and churn out more of the same, Bowie kept moving,. Looking for new thins. It’s didn’t always work. His eighties work after Let’s Dance (which isn’t one of my favourites though it has its moments) went seriously off of the rails. But you have to admire the effort.  And while the debate will rage on as to whether Bowie was helping or exploiting other musicians, there’s no denying that Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Mot the Hoople all benefited from working with him.

It was a shock to hear the news last week. When Lemmy died it was also a shock because we all thought he would live forever; yet, at the same time, we were all amazed he lasted so long. Bowie was a total surprise. I haven’t listened to Blackstar yet. I will. I don’t know if I’ll like it, but I have no doubt I’ll respect it. And that’s a good thing.

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