Yes, this is primarily a film site. I apologize to my friend & co-author of this blog, for taking liberties with the scope of this site.
I woke up this morning, turned on CBS news and heard the announcement that David Bowie died on Sunday (January 10, 2016). For some reason my reaction to this news was, it can’t be. Of course it could, we’ve lost a lot of other famous people several years younger, but the timing was impactful to me.
Permit me to share my thoughts on David Bowie and how events such as this work into our lives. It has been said that each of us have a connection to the other, sometimes obscure, other times direct. To be clear, I never met David Bowie, didn’t get involved as a fan, or have any other connection other than enjoying decades of his music and the occasional film.
Music has a way of connecting our memories and people. We recall specific songs, musicians and the complex tapestry of our experience. My first exposure to David Bowie was more accidental than planned. I was a young Marine, stationed on a small helicopter base in Santa Ana California. We lived in a barracks of approximately 60 men, sharing cubicles of 4, which provided us minimal privacy. We each had 4 standing, 7 foot high wall lockers forming one wall, of which I devoted one to my own stereo system. I custom built the speakers to fit into one of these narrow wall lockers On weekends, either I or some other fellow Marine accessed this stereo to play music in the barracks. It easily trumped anything others had. We shared music among the variety of guys and their different styles.
This devotion to music and my willingness to allow others to play theirs, brought forward two friends who asked me to drive them to a concert of David Bowie. I was unfamiliar with him, but they paid for my gas and the ticket. We stood out among the attendees with our shaved heads & straight looking appearance. The glam rocker fans came in full regalia, including makeup and glitter on some of the faces.
The staging theatrics & costumes utilized to highlight this concert, were an eye opener for this midwestern kid. The spotlight number with full makeup was Space Oddity. It was aptly named at that time, for my limited knowledge of Kabuki theater. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s I continued to enjoy his music, transitioning from 1970’s 8-tracks, to vinyl, then to CD’s. One of my kids favorites from David Bowie was his Goblin King role in the 1986 movie, Labyrinth. The movie was directed by Muppets creator, Jim Henson.
Then the BBC ran a unique and interesting fictional detective series, Life on Mars (2006–2007), featuring theme music of the same name by David Bowie.
I was listening to KEXP FM – Seattle, last Friday. They featured a David Bowie 12 hour music dedication for his 69th birthday. I listen to them through Internet stream and announced this on my twitter feed. I also emailed my son-in-law, an accomplished rock musician in his own right. It turned out to be a prescient moment with David’s passing on Sunday. I’m planning on purchasing his newly released Blackstar album. A fitting closing album barely released before this news.
What made this announcement so personal for me? For one thing, David Bowie and I are close to the same age. More over, I was talking to my venerable grandfather on Sunday. I make it a habit of checking in with him, as he’s less likely to call me. We used to chat through Skype until his eye sight deteriorated where he could no longer use his computer. I found out he had to place his wife into full time nursing care. At this point his own energy and strength no longer permit him to adequately attend to his wife’s physical needs. He still visits her and is able to push her wheel chair around while they chat. His determination to keep going after his own battle with cancer over 30 years ago, is remarkable.
We’ve witnessed the death of a musical icon whose musical career spanned over 45 years. I’m simultaneously seeing the slow end of life of my much loved grandfather. It’s a reminder of our own limited life cycle.
“As an adolescent, I was painfully shy, withdrawn. I didn’t really have the nerve to sing my songs on stage, and nobody else was doing them. I decided to do them in disguise so that I didn’t have to actually go through the humiliation of going on stage and being myself. I continued designing characters with their own complete personalities and environments. I put them into interviews with me! Rather than be me — which must be incredibly boring to anyone — I’d take Ziggy in, or Aladdin Sane or The Thin White Duke. It was a very strange thing to do.”
“Fame itself … doesn’t really afford you anything more than a good seat in a restaurant.”
“I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture I was living in.”
~ all 3 quotes from David Bowie (1947-2016)
Note: Highlighted text provides additional related links in this post.
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