Like everyone else I know who woke up Monday morning with that gut punch of the news of David Bowie’s passing it caused me to reflect. Immediately my phone blew up. First from my friends in the UK and Scotland specifically Leeds and Stonehaven and then my friends here Huntington Woods et al. and the devastation this news caused. These are some of my closest friends and fiercest musical comrades and even though we have had lengthy discussions and disagreements over the Bowie catalog I still had no idea just how much he meant to them. It then dawned on me how much he meant to me but I realized I was nowhere near the fan these friends are. Why is that?
I recall a poll of David Bowie’s top ten albums about 10 years ago and Station To Station topped the list. So many people name check that album and I just don’t like it. After a spirited email exchange I decided to try it again. I walked into a record shop and looked at it and not one of the songs interest me. Sorry.
Even weirder is the fact I rate Young Americans so highly. YA just seems ..well.. more organic. It is just as soulful. Probably more so. What other album has Luther Vandross and John Lennon on it? The title of this blog pays homage to one of my favorite David Bowie songs ever, Somebody Up There Likes Me. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoXX5XX32xY
I am also one of the only people who rates Scary Monsters as their favorite David Bowie album. The guitars on that record are incendiary at points. It’s No Game, Teenage Wildlife, Because You’re Young, Kingdom Come. Just nailing it. Add Tom Verlaine to the list of musicians David Bowie championed.
Also Heroes. All of it. Yes that includes side 2.
Herein lies the beauty of an artist like David Bowie. There is, or should be, something for everyone in his catalog. I carved my own weird path. Others their own. No one is wrong. It is all the more fitting. David Bowie made it OK for you to follow your own path. I would argue he started that path.
This leads you into just what a monumental figure he is. Who else influenced Music, Art, Fashion, Sexuality so much? He was a true trailblazer. Constantly changing. From the guy who appeared on the cover of The Man Who Sold The World in drag to Ziggy to Aladdin Sane to the Thin White Duke and the Berlin years to the soul/funk era. Always pushing boundaries. Especially in the fashion world. Think about it. No David Bowie means no Glam. No Punk. I cant imagine what the musical landscape would look like had he never existed.
What really sets him apart in my eyes is how had his finger on the pulse when it came to groundbreaking music. He championed the Velvet Underground before anyone else. Ditto Iggy & the Stooges. He saved Mott The Hoople by giving them All The Young Dudes to record. They were about to throw in the towel as a band and along come David Bowie with a song that becomes a massive hit. There are probably more stories like this. People like this don’t change. Once a mensch always a mensch.
I particularly love the way some Detroiter’s paid tribute with various billboards. Glad it was Detroiter’s that thought of it. Another reason to be proud to be from here. No Panic In Detroit. Just love and admiration.
There have been some amazing things said about what a gentleman he was from those who knew him. Those who interviewed him. There is this from Pegi Young. https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pegiyoung/videos/1128420060516557/?fref=nf
It is a strange feeling when you know you are a music obsessive or a music snob and it takes 40 years to realize just how much you do love an artist. You are just as big a fan. You just didn’t know it. Glad I bought all those Bowie records years ago. After 5 days of stories, videos, posts and tributes I have let it all sink in and I am in awe of the career of David Bowie. Specifically how he was able to keep his illness private and was able to say goodbye to his fans with one last gift. We could all learn a lesson from him.
May his star shine brightly forever!