Published on January 13th, 2016 | by gatsbyadmin0
Death and the Future, David Bowie RIP
Bowie. This isn’t a long piece nor would it pretend to be the final word on David Bowie or his place in music. Or his place in history, for that matter. I’m not an expert in music, history, or David Bowie although there have been times in my life where I would have fancied myself all three.
But I do know this article is about something big, someone from the single-word spectrum of naming. I’m writing due to a death that seems, despite some public knowledge of an artist’s deteriorating health, sudden and untimely.
Comparisons aren’t impossible; they are even aided by his being a central influence on a genre that grew around and because of him. He boogied further back in time, had been shining for a while, light years away from earth and yet sequentially necessary to so much that went on at ground-level; outer spatial and foundational. Chronologically influential, yes, but he mattered more so because of his wide range of musical interests and ability.
Depth, breadth, and longevity are concepts that seem to exist competitively but Bowie coordinated them for the better part of five decades. Seeds of his classics are in the wind, too, in Portuguese covers and shit like the Shrek soundtrack. The man may be dead but his music will live on.
And why does such survival, nay dissemination, seem possible in this age of accessibility, replacement, and change?
Because advance and evolution is what Bowie was all about. Bowie was getting at the heart of things. Bowie gets traction on the soul and you might learn if you pay attention. And you get both dos and don’ts from a person like this who bares so many parts of their complicated selves. Without exception, serious Bowie fans have felt many, many ways about the man and that’s part of why it’s so hard to accept his death. Even when the legends don’t die young, their business still doesn’t seem quite finished.
Certainly the so-called classic rock era that spilled into disco and morphed into the 1980’s showcased its fair share of stars. And yet listeners still find it more natural to refer to the era’s “Mick Jaggers,” or “Paul McCartneys,” and even sometimes its “John Lennons,” etc., as such, by their full names. Bowie matched up with his fellow English innovators but always seemed to sparkle from someplace in the future, a different galaxy, home of Prince and Lady Gaga, home of the alien geniuses, terminally dissimilar even from the other stars.
In terms of rock and roll music, listening to Bowie means finding ease in Hendrix territory. Where Clapton floats. Dare I say, the haze that frames memories and interpretations of Elvis. To enjoy Bowie one must be comfortable in the same room as the lightning bolts of human creativity, more dangerous and contradictory than the merely cool mutants. A measure of surrender is needed. Bravery helps one take a step back to try to understand and strive for familiarity with a rebel.
Culturally, Bowie exists as a figurehead of imagination and uniqueness akin to Lou Reed. He is the type of artist with a loyal following like the Grateful Dead. He is like the Ol’ Dirty Bastard of rock if only because nobody seems to have fathered his style and yet we continue to go back to him while charting creativity all around us today.
In more meta terms, Bowie represented more than just good music. It seems like Bowie was driving toward some fundamental truths about consciousness and human potential, fluidity and openness. Bowie gambled dangerously with Nazi reappropriation, musical experimentation, and the sexual revolution, all the while publicly exorcising more demons than most, even most celebrities. I can’t cast judgment at this time. But his wax-and-wane always felt too personal; surely it must deal with more than just songs. Perhaps Bowie brings sense to what Nietzsche said about life without music being a mistake? Or perhaps both were simply geniuses of the same type: those who can’t be ignored or forgotten despite their flaws.
And Bowie’s flaws were real. Or at least, there are stories that cannot be ignored particularly regarding allegations of sexual violence. Bowie as a man is a question his fans must resolve for themselves. Indeed, the irresolution of these concerns is part of what makes his passing so difficult to comprehend.
Bowie as a talent, however, is undeniable. As luck would have it, the controversial, even maligned artists are often those who deeply involve their audience. In terms of rock, David Bowie is one of the greatest. David Bowie might be the greatest. Accept it. This loss is huge. In discussions of sports it is often debated how modern athletes would match up with the greats of the past. The musical product and cultural reverberations of David Bowie would have been influential in any time period. He effected nearly half a century of music and could never have been overlooked. And as his own prophecy seems to show, Bowie’s presence will likely only grow.
“There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
‘Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile…”
Written by: Martin Osborn @o_z.z_y