Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Thinking About David Bowie

I had no idea that David Bowie was so tightly woven into people's hearts. I feel really sorry for his family, and of course for him; these days 69 is quite young to die.
The stills from his last video are horrifying, especially if you have experienced the death of a relative or friend recently.
All his life, Bowie flirted with the idea of death (Please Mr Gravedigger) and a large proportion of his songs had mortality at their centre.
He seemed bent on control over his life and his persona; this worked positively for his family because he was able to become very private in the latter half of his life. The staging of his death, I find excruciatingly peculiar.
I loved his early material, and disengaged gradually after that because of a combination of a deep dislike of his politics, and the move away from Tony Visconti as a producer to Eno, whose work I find difficult to connect with.
The expressions of sorrow on social media I watch through a thick, obscured glass. Is it because he was a Londoner (us Geordie's couldn't grasp the appeal of the TV show Budgie, for instance)?
No, I don't think so: I loved the Kinks.
Is it because I had a completely rural upbringing and he was simply too sophisticated for my country-bred brain?
I don't think so, because I loved Frank Zappa.
There was something in his celebration of artificiality that I couldn't grasp, and that stiffness and control. Although he seemed to yearn for freedom from his body, everything about him seemed constructed to trap him. Even his voice seemed not to be able to escape, although it tried its damnedest.
I thought of Poly Styrene. I am glad Zillah is documenting her life; regrettably, my one audio recording of her, where she sings the first song that she ever wrote, is clogged up with terrible electronic interference. Poly will never have the global recognition that David Bowie has, but today I remember her, and of course, McMum.
Perhaps this is the significance of a global superstar passing away; in the wake of their trajectory, space is cleared to connect with our memories of our own close and significant people,.


Wilky of St Albans said...

Well, thats you lynched at the next Bowie convention!

It's well documented that Bowies main aim was to be famous, and he struck paydirt with Ziggy Stardust. I was still at school at the time, and it was interesting to watch the behaviours of the 'fans'. Owning ZS was mandatory for the self-styled 'intellectual' girls (the boys were too into Pink Floyd and Krautrock to notice) who had previously sneered at the antics of those who followed the Bay City Rollers. Indeed if you look at footage of the audience at Rollers gigs and at Ziggy gigs the only obvious difference is the outfits. The adulation is the same. Tartans trousers are childish, a red stripe across your face is sooo grown up. Bowie offered a different way of upsetting your parents.

Of course, once fame was achieved, keeping the momentum going did mean constant re-invention. The one thing missing from the thousands of words written is whilst he wrote some cracking songs, most of his albums were 50% cak

Rich C said...

For me and most of my friends in the 70s, Bowie was just the most incredible artist. His music left more of a mark on me than anyone else. His band were from my home city as well. I've never come anywhere close to genuinely grieving about a "celeb" as I have Bowie. Still can't bring myself to listen to him yet.

Helen McCookerybook said...

Aww Richard I'm sorry about that. I thought he was very interesting, and he did write and record some fantastic songs. I just didn't love him, and that's what has surprised me; I started avoiding Facebook last week because of the outpourings of genuine sadness that I couldn't feel myself, apart from what I said in the posting- he had a family of people that must be mourning him heavily.
When John Lennon was murdered, I cried. He was young and he was a peace campaigner, and had symbolised a different world; I know that David Bowie had a symbolism for young people who felt alienated and they heard this in his music. I know he was extremely intelligent and made a career template for a lot of other artists- especially Madonna, whom he apparently disliked.
Play and enjoy his music- that's what he chose to share, and he would be very upset if he thought that people couldn't listen to it!