It’s come to my attention that there are people living on this planet who heard about the death of Pop Star David Bowie and said, “Who?”
To save you the time Googling his name, David Bowie was this introvert who evolved into a Pop Music Icon. He was out there, but just inside the line to capture mass appeal. During the many post-passing salutes, I heard the story of how he got his name. He was trying to crack into the music biz, when all of a sudden, another guy with the name of Davey Jones was making it big with a manufactured-for-TV group called “The Monkees.” So, David changed his name….but before that could stick, another guy named Tom Jones had his first hit. What was next? David Bowie. I think because people struggled with whether to say “Boowie” or Bowie”, that no one else stole that one and he finally had a name of his own.
While most probably just dust off Bowie’s passing as “time marches on” or “yeah, well, he was a partying kind of guy”, it’s more importantly a reminder–especially for 60-year-old me–that we need to appreciate the time we’ve got here. Bowie passed away from liver cancer just two days after his 69th birthday and the day he released his 26th album, “Dark Star.”
For me, you don’t have to be Einstein to see the Dark Star connection, or where he was going with one of the songs on his final album, “Lazarus.” David was given an 18-months heads up to make every day count and he did. He recorded one more album and posed for a professional photographer. Even some of his last photos on earth were of him smiling, enjoying life.
Bowie’s music was always there. It was a soundtrack. In the 1960s, the 70s, the 80 and so on, five of the six decades of my life contained music from David Bowie. I remember driving up from California to Washington State for college and hearing “Young Americans” on the “Best of Bowie” cassette in my car. While I enjoyed the pop tunes in his early days, I locked into him when he was deep into doing albums that he created for music’s sake, not mass consumption. That’s where I found Heroes.
We’re all born, we all live, we all die. Hopefully, we focus on the middle part, as David Bowie did so well. I heard an interview the day after he passed with Carlos Alomar, who played guitar on most of his albums. Carlos was talking about how Bowie would arrange to go in and record an album…but with the idea they’d make it up once they got there. No plans, just a few thoughts going in–and the magic would happen in the studio.
And magic occurred. 26 times.
We just left the Christmas season, but I’m already looking forward to the first time I can watch that video of David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing “Little Drummer Boy” to get me in the holiday spirit. My guess is that’s a number one request item up there these days.
I just want to say ‘thanks’ for everything you gave while you could, Mr. Bowie. Music is such a wonderful invention. How many other things can you create–and they never go away?
I’m glad for that.