Wednesday, January 13, 2016

David Bowie (1947-2016)

"If you say run, I'll run with you
If you say hide, we'll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall
Into my arms
Tremble like a flower."
-Let's Dance-

To say it was a surprise to find influential music icon and consummate artist David Bowie (1947-2016) had passed away would be an understatement.

There isn't much I can say here that hasn't already been said elsewhere.

I am certainly no expert when it comes to David Bowie. I've always had a passing interest in his music and less so his films. This writer has generally been a casual fan of his work and even public persona as interesting as he was. Still, he was always there delivering something of artistic value throughout my life. Some of it I enjoyed and some not so much.

There's no question Bowie was the artist's artist too influencing artists each and every generation. You would be hard-pressed to find a band/singer/performer who wouldn't cite Bowie. Annie Lennox. Iva Davies. Duran Duran. Talk Talk. The Psychedelic Furs. The list goes on and on. In some big or small way the artist, performer and fashion inventing icon had a significant impact particularly on the artists I loved and adored.

Like other artists the often androgynous Bowie took his liberties in playing with sexuality long before the LGBT community began to truly take shape.

And like many young artists in the beginning Bowie dabbled in an alignment with fascism even citing Adolph Hitler as something of a rock star, the kind of artistic cool later associated with embarrassment. How ironic he would one day mature and invest heavily in Wall Street.

But when it came to cool, he was undeniably the king of it as pop stars go. Was there a King Of Cool? Well, it would have been Bowie.

Here I can only offer my personal love of some of his music of which I always return. Again, I dabbled in songs from across Bowie's career. My collection is based entirely on downloading.

The much maligned, Nile Rodgers produced Let's Dance (1983) was something of a proper dance and pop album with an edge. It remains my personal favorite. What would you expect from a child raised and reared on music from the 1980s with a label for his blog dubbed 80s Music Plus?

The Thin White Duke as he was called and Ziggy Stardust among other names and immersive character portraits passed away from liver cancer.

I will say this. The man was loaded with style and as classy as artists come, particularly as he aged. I must admit, though surprised, I found great respect for his quiet handling of his illness. This is a man who left us peacefully and artistically in a world populated with those looking for the next bit of juicy gossip and yet he handled his passing with as much discipline and grace as his career. Publically he simply let his music and performance art speak for itself while privately bowing out on his own terms reinventing himself right to the very end. You have to admire that.

I was not a particularly big fan of his films, but then I have not seen many of them. Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983) and The Hunger (1983) may be among the most interesting. I'm a fan of the war genre and the underrated former is excellent on Criterion. Science fiction and fantasy films include The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976), Labyrinth (1986) and Christopher Nolan's The Prestige (2006). Into The Night (1985) and Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988) are also worth your time. Though it sometimes seemed his legend and distinct appearance had the potential to overshadow just how good he could be (but it's Bowie, who cares, cast him). Like Freddie Mercury before him he has always been that big, larger than life icon and presence. Of course today, we are sadly reminded he was but a man, flesh and blood, albeit an extremely talented, influential and creative man.

Bowie was always a fascinating gentleman to me and I will always treasure that special voice. In fact, that voice was amazing. Yet, I either loved the songs he made with it or his songs fell flat. I always wanted more from that voice along the lines of the songs I selected below. 

I didn't always sing along to his lyrics correctly either. "One day I'm gonna get that fucking thing together" when it was really "One day, I'm gonna get that faculty together." Oh well, I still enjoyed my line.

These may not be the critical darlings of his work, but these are my favorite selections from the Bowie catalogue often playing and keeping me company. These are all generally essential to me, but some effort was made to rank my favorites.

21. Peace On Earth/ Little Drummer Boy (with Bing Crosby)
20. The Man Who Sold The World.
19. Fame.
18. Golden Years.
17. I'm Afraid Of Americans (NIN V.1 Mix).
16. Tonight (with Tina Turner).
15. Jump They Say.
14. Telling Lies (Adam F Mix).
13. Changes.
12. Never Let Me Down.
11. Blue Jean.
10. Heroes.
9. Modern Love.
8. Criminal World.
7. Under Pressure (with Queen).
6. Everyone Says "Hi" (Metro Mix).
5. The Stars Are Out Tonight (a video featuring Tilda Swinton in all out David Bowie mode).
4. China Girl.
3. This Is Not America (with Pat Metheny).
2. Let's Dance.
1. Where Are We Now?.

What are your favorites?

For some, creative genius, outsider Bowie was a bit of an odd, kind of alien thing, the man who fell to Earth, that not everyone fully understood. But that was the surprise and invention of Bowie. And with a predilection for aliens as we're so inclined to have here at Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic, we very much enjoyed loving this particular alien.

Virgin Records' Richard Branson noted, "I thought he'd live forever" and this is one man, like The Beatles, that will endure.

At just 69, a hero to the world of music and art, Bowie will be sorely missed, but what a wonderful, strange, shining legacy he leaves. I'm sad to see him go.

"Had to get the train
From Potsdamer Platz
You never knew that
I could do that
Just walking the dead
Where are we now
Where are we now?"
-Where are we now?-



le0pard13 said...

There are before David Bowie and after David Bowie, his impact that great on music and movies. He will be greatly missed. Fine tribute, G.

Francisco Gonzalez said...

I also felt Bowies death heavily, to me he was a true unique, like no other. My favorite humans are those that push creativity and fully being themselves...truly showing others that it is in fact in our nature (however repressed) to let our true selves shine, to be as different and as loud as you want. I connected with Bowie as an artist, but also as a human being. I love many of his songs, Putting ou the Fire....with gasoliiiiine! But strange you should start your article with my favorite of his! I sing it all the time in Kareoke bars! Anyways, Bowie will be missed...he certainly left his mark in our world, the way it should be.

Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

A lovely expression Francisco. I agree completely. Bowie really captured the essence of individuality when it comes to humanity. And, also, seemed to respect it and respect others. Kind of absent today in many circles. It's one thing to be yourself, but it's another to demand others see things exactly as you do. That's unfortunate today.