Musicians, film stars, celebrities, famous people they come and go. They all die, as is the pattern with our existence. We say “what a shame”, “too soon” or “I admired him”. This morning I woke up to hear that David Bowie had died and for the first time on hearing somebody famous had died I felt genuine shock. Even as I type this having put Teenage Wildlife on the background to offer some comfort I find myself welling up as though I’ve lost a best friend I hadn’t spoken to in years.
The out pouring of grief we’ll see over the news and social media outlets over the next few days we’ll demonstrate how much Bowie meant to so many. Weirdly I keep company with those who never said he was much cop. They’re wrong but you can’t go round hitting everyone you disagree with…
Oh crap I just started crying… Teenage Wildlife probably wasn’t the best choice.
Growing up with parents who were fans of Bowie I grew up to the constant sounds of Life on Mars, Ziggy Stardust and Beauty & The Beast – which remains probably my favourite song of all time. So many childhood memories are soundtracked by his songs – like the exciting one where I visited a John Deare factory to the sounds of TVC-15 and Golden Years. At university my flat-mates held an intervention when I delved to deep into his music and listened to nothing but Bowie for 3 months. Weird live bootlegs and Italian versions of Space Oddity emanating from my room till they had enough. That 3 month period was a damn fine one, I had every album and every odd track you can name and it was glorious.
For a man known throughout the world who sometimes spoke of the most obtuse subjects his voice and music would cut to the very heart of things. From social songs of injustice (Black Tie, White Noise), emotional cries for help (Word on a Wing), horror-thriller concept albums (Outside) things were never made simple. That’s why we admired him so much. Whether the music worked or not (sometimes it didn’t but let’s celebrate his imperfections) that he always sort to change and improve was an attractive quality in an artist. Some called him a sponge, some a dilletante, others accused him of outright plagiarism for appropriating other artists styles – be in German electronic pioneers, Philadelphia soul singers or London Drum N’Bass artists. What he did though was bring these musics to a wider ranging audience. His audience.
I know where the mouth of the river is when it comes to my broad taste of music, it’s name is Bowie. This piece probably doesn’t say one thing that I actually meant to say, for now the news is still setting in.
I loved this man and I never met him. The sound of his voice has literally been with me my entire life. Mine is a life where his music dominates and I feel all the more grateful for it.
Thank you David.