Like most of the world, I was shocked to wake up to the sad news that David Bowie passed away yesterday from cancer. I was unaware he was even ill. My journey with David Bowie began a decade after his classic hits.
Queen released their greatest hits album in the fall of 1981. I had never heard of David Bowie before, but when he did “Under Pressure” with Queen it was a voice I would never forget. That song is probably one of a very few that has never left my playlist. It is a song I can never get sick of, no matter what.
Bowie’s huge hit, “Let’s Dance”, is another one of those songs from a year that holds a special place for me in music. 1983. Together with “China Girl” and “Modern Love”, 1983 was a huge year for Bowie. I will fully admit, some of his later material in the 1980’s didn’t do it for me. But watching Bowie and Mick Jagger’s video for “Dancing In The Streets”, which debuted at Live Aid in 1985, was a definite highlight.
It wasn’t until 1987 that I finally caught up with Bowie’s older material from the 1970’s. I remember hanging out on the “front lawn” at my high school with some friends and someone had a radio. “Young Americans” came on. Embarrassingly, I asked someone who sang this new song. They explained to me how Bowie’s classic stuff was much better than his 80’s material. A couple months into the summer, I looked for a David Bowie greatest hits album but I couldn’t find anything. I stopped looking after awhile. But in 1990, “Changesbowie” was released, and I never looked back.
I went into Bowie mode in a big way back in 2009. The TV show “Life On Mars” recaptured my love for all things 70’s Bowie.
For me, the height of David Bowie was his music released between 1969 to 1983. With the announcement of his death, I find myself wanting to take another listen to his material after that. A friend of mine posted his last video, for the song “Lazarus”, from his last album called “Blackstar”. It was released two days ago. The video is very powerful given what we now know Bowie was going through the past year and a half.
Bowie was part of the “glam rock” era of rock. When you are a pioneer in these types of eras, it is very hard for anyone to live up to that pinnacle. Bowie represents that side of music where anyone can be different and still be a success as long as you put your heart in it. He opened the door for so many that followed. Whether he was playing the very odd FBI agent named Phillip in a Twin Peaks movie, or talking about Ground Control to Major Tom, we were mesmerized by Bowie, even now. But I will never forget where it all began for me:
‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves
RIP David Bowie…