David Bowie

Oh! You Pretty Things

David Bowie – Oh! You Pretty Things

When I picked up my phone this morning and casually opened Instagram to see if any of my friends had been at any great shows last night, I scrolled and thought, wait, what is going on here?! I frantically clicked over to Twitter to find some context, something confirming what seemed impossible. My brain couldn’t process what I was seeing. Days after his 69th birthday, after his latest album’s release and the video for the song Lazarus, without warning, David Bowie was dead.

A Monday morning doesn’t grant you the time to sit and absorb that kind of information. I jumped in the car to drive my daughter to school and fumbled for some kind of explanation to give her for who was David Bowie and how monumental his work and life were and god, how could he have possibly died!?

I got to work and settled into a non-stop Bowie marathon, starting with Hunky Dory. That’s the album that is my starting point for all things Bowie. As I’ve mentioned before, my older brother was a huge David Bowie fan and that’s the first one I remember being immersed in as a pre-teen while my brother ruled the turntable. Next up, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. It wasn’t until college, probably, that I stopped to listen to what I was singing when “Suffragette City” would come on, and realized oh, hey, maybe now I get what my mom objected to about David Bowie. I was too young to really understand most of what she found offensive and she didn’t come right out and say it either, probably not wanting to acknowledge what had flown over our heads in case we hadn’t picked up on it the first time around. I just loved the songs and soaked them up like a sponge.

On through Diamond Dogs and Young Americans making my way into the Berlin trilogy, hitting Scary Monsters for the drive home. One of the great benefits of having been exposed to David Bowie before I could fully appreciate everything he was doing is that I just accepted it. Sure, I didn’t get what all the songs were really about but if my brother thought he was cool, then so did I. Having that kind of introduction to not just music but art, fashion, sexuality, film, theater, was truly a gift. If you had seen one of his more avant garde performances, even if you thought to yourself, what did I just watch?, it stretched you and your ideas of what was acceptable.

There will never be another person like David Bowie. Someone who never stopped creating and innovating, right to the end. Have you seen the videos for “Blackstar” and “Lazarus“? And I loved this one for The Stars (Are Out Tonight) from The Next Day back in 2013. He was a genius, an artist, and an inspiration. We are lucky to have been alive during his lifetime.

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Modern Love

David Bowie – Modern Love

My brother was a huge David Bowie fan and my mother hated David Bowie. But my mother also worked full-time so my brother took advantage of her not being home in the afternoons and my other two sisters and I received a daily education in all of David Bowie’s great achievements. We were schooled on Ziggy Stardust, we looked at the cover of Diamond Dogs unsure of what to make of it, we sang along to “Queen Bitch”, I did a report for 9th grade English class on “Kooks.”

My brother went off to college in 1982. In 1983 David Bowie released Let’s Dance. This was not my brother’s David Bowie. This was more like my older sister’s David Bowie. In fact, the cassette I listened to in the car today is the original 1983 copy that my sister bought, complete with a little sticker with her initials on it to identify it as hers in her college dorm room. This was dance-y Bowie, and not in a “John, I’m Only Dancing” way. It was produced with Nile Rodgers, after all. For my brother, worshipper of punk, hater of disco, this was a step too far.

Listening to it now, some of the songs are not really that far of a departure from some of his previous work, but the hits were really big hits. If you’ve been a fan of a band or musician when they’ve been less adored by the general public and then they suddenly become everyone’s favorite, especially if the album they’re now getting all the attention for is one you don’t like, it puts a real strain on your relationship with that band. I know a little something about that. So in hindsight, I’m sympathetic to my brother’s plight. At the time, though, we little sisters thought it was pretty cool that David Bowie had made an album you could dance to with your friends.

Last week was David Bowie’s birthday and I presume my brother has long since forgiven the now 68-year-old for Let’s Dance, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to know that he doesn’t own it. Judging by the fact that this tape was abandoned by everyone and found by me in my mother’s basement when we were there recently, I’d say it’s no one’s favorite. That and no one has a tape deck anymore. Long live my car’s tape deck and Tape Deck Tuesday for these trips down memory lane!