Tuesday, January 12, 2016
David Bowie: A Man of Sound + Vision
Everyone has musical heroes.
That artist, that when you hear their song, you are transported back in time to swim in a wonderful memory that recharges you, excites you and warms your heart. I have many musical artists that belong on my "Mount Rushmore" of rock. David Bowie would be front and center on that mountain. His influence is found in past and present artists. There would be no Madonna or Lady Gaga if not for David Bowie carving a path that started in 1967. He has mesmerized, confused and enlightened the public with so many incarnations that the public never knew where he was going to take them. July 1969, "Space Oddity" was released five days ahead of the Apollo 11 launch and the music world would never be the same again.
I was on my way to work Monday morning when I received a phone call from my wife saying that Bowie had passed away. She knew his importance to me and did not want me to find out from Facebook or someone else. She wanted me to hear it from her because she knew it would hit me hard. It did. I was, and still am, numb. His art has inspired me and my writing for years. His cryptic lyrics and themes were to forge everything I would write. He created such beautiful landscapes through his music. Pop, rock, country, jazz, R&B, soul and glam rock were genres that he would explore with the aim to shock and make you climb in and take the journey with him.
My first memory of Bowie is seeing a video of him performing "Starman" on TV. It was unlike anything I had ever seen or heard before. I was confused, mesmerized, curious and blown away. He was an alien to me. I was hooked at that very moment. As a parent, our kids are subjected to hearing the music we grew up on and enjoy. My kids have heard the music of Bowie since they were born. Our tastes don't always take hold on our kids but Bowie's music locked onto my kids' brains and they became fans as well.
On May 24th 2004 I took my sons, Josh and Joel, to see Bowie live at Veterans Memorial in Columbus. It was an event for us. They were so excited. It was their first exposure to a large scale concert. The looks on their faces were priceless as they saw Bowie take the stage. They each had their favorite Bowie song they were pumped to hear. As you can see in one of the pictures, Joel had fallen asleep just as his favorite song, "I'm Afraid Of Americans", was played. How can anyone fall asleep during a concert? A tired 8 year old can. He wasn't happy that he missed his favorite song and we laugh about it now. Bowie was touring his latest album at the time, Reality. None of us knew at the time that it would be the last time we would see him live and that it would be the last tour he ever had. I will always have the memory of it.
On Jan. 8, his 69th birthday, Bowie released Blackstar, the collection that would serve as his final album of new material during his lifetime. According to longtime producer Tony Visconti, who oversaw the sessions, the record was planned as a farewell gift to fans. Bowie had been battling cancer for the past 18 months but didn't share that with his fans. I think he kept it a secret because he was a very private person and wanted his fans to focus on the music instead of his illness. He spent his last year working on his final album and was determined to give the world his last words through music. Bowie will forever be that explorer riding high on that rocket ship to Mars. His inspiration will be seen in the universe of music for as long as ears will be brave enough to explore it. It has been an amazing journey of sound+vision.
I want to finish this article with a link to Bowie's final music video. The song and video for "Lazarus" is a haunting, beautiful song that now, and forever, have a new meaning now that Bowie has passed away.
Rest in peace, Starman.