Stunned. That’s the word for it. I was stunned Monday morning when I heard the news that David Bowie had died.
“Didn’t he just release an album? How can this be?”
Well, it was true.
I don’t want to give the impression that I was some megafan who credited Bowie for helping release my true self and let my freak flag fly. My freak flag is pretty vanilla. But, I did like a lot of the music he gave to the world. And I liked his being what I always thought was the true embodiment of the artist: Always creative, always reinventing himself while still maintaining that cool air of intelligence and sophistication.
All week I’ve been listening to his music. (I have Aladdin Sane playing now.) He produced a lot of music. More than 20 albums worth with his latest album Blackstar released just last Friday on his 69th birthday. I haven’t given a listen yet, but I will.
I figured as a tribute I’d share my three favorite of his albums:
Hunky Dory (1971) just feels so good to me. This album was setting up what would become the Ziggy Stardust persona that would come with his next album. It starts off with one of his most iconic songs Changes and then takes the listener on a trip through his life and tributes to his influences. Kooks was a song for his son Duncan (or Zowie) tucked in with songs for Bob Dylan and Andy Warhol. There’s a joyousness to this album that sinks right into me as I listen.
Scary Monsters…and Super Creeps (1980) was Bowie’s first release after his Berlin Trilogy and it ushered in the 80s decade with its artful take on New Wave. Ashes To Ashes was just brilliant as it revisited Major Tom from Bowie’s first hit song Space Oddity. Always the innovator, Bowie demonstrated with the video for the song that video could be an art form all its own. And Pete Townshend lends a hand on the track Because You’re Young, so how could I not consider this one of Bowie’s best albums?
Low (1977) was the first of the Berlin Trilogy and is a fantastic album. Synthy, poppy, moody, artsy. Just so cool. I listened to this album all through my years at art school. Sound And Vision is my favorite track that is such great synth pop before there even was synth pop. That’s Bowie! He always led the way. The second half of the album is filled with mostly instrumental tracks with sparse vocals. The songs are quite atmospheric and cinematic, which makes sense as this album was made of material Bowie had initially intended to be used as the soundtrack for the film The Man Who Fell To Earth. However, the director didn’t feel the music fit. Regardless, what an excellent and influential album.
As I said, David Bowie produced a lot of music. These three terrific albums only scratch the surface.
It’s been a rough stretch for celebrities lately. Lemmy Kilmister, Wayne Rogers, Natalie Cole and few others have all died within the last couple of weeks, but Bowie’s death seems to have really shaken us up. He was a giant talent who definitely had a hell of a lot more to contribute to the world.
Let’s hope we don’t lose another creative giant any time soon.
What? Alan Rickman?!