Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My Life With David Bowie

My life with David Bowie began in 1986, when I went to see a movie called “Labyrinth”. Midway into the film when the Goblin King was reminded of the Babe it clicked that this was the guy who sang the “China Girl” song I liked from the roller rink. I left the theater that afternoon and  my grandparents bought me the cassettes of the movies’ soundtrack and “Let’s Dance”. Up until this point Prince’s “Purple Rain " was the only non-metal album I owned. The rest of my collection was limited to Kiss, Twisted Sister, Alice Cooper, W.A.S.P, Motley Crue and Ozzy. But with one song Bowie opened another world with “Cat People”. Here he proved he proved you could make music that was dark without being metal. This is after he had already backed off with a tender ‘Without You” that found him in his head register. He used many different colors vocally and raised the bar for what I expected from singers to come. I caught onto Bowie at the right time because the next year he released “Never Let Me Down” and embarked on the Glass Spider Tour. This was my third concert following Kiss and Alice Cooper. It exceeded their level of theatrics and blew my mind. I saw every tour from point on…”Sound & Vision”, his jaunt for “Outside” with Nine Inch Nails,” Earthling” and the “Reality” tour. Of the things I can be grateful for during this time of mourning is how thankfully I am he preserved the perfect memories I have of how immaculate he was live. Never struggled for a note, on the Reality tour his voice seemed the strongest I heard him since 91. That is how I want to remember him, so thank you for not dragging yourself out on the road to make money off the younger generation who never got to see you. Bowie didn’t need the money. He preserved those perfect memories and I’m glad he did not drag himself out on the road again and left the perfect ideal of him in my mind.

 It makes me a little sick to see David Bowie referred to as a pop singer or star by the media, as he was an artist. It hard to say if four of my favorite movies are my favorite’s because Bowie is in them or not, but Labyrinth, the Hunger, Twin Peaks Come Fire Walk With Me and the Last Temptation of Christ can all pretty much stand in a league of their own. My years in musical theater would never happened without him. He could wield a paint brush, sax and microphone all with equal grace, but if you ever saw his stage performance of the Elephant Man preformed with no make up, you would know he needed nothing at all but his own talent. But his greatest talent was being himself within each persona. He said in an interview that people who called him a chameleon were wrong because chameleons change to blend in to fit their environment and it is just the opposite he changes his color and the environment confirms to him. This is how he has inspired me to live my life. All of the roles life has cast me in I’ve adapted them to suit who I am rather than adhering to what society’s idea of that role should be portrayed. Control is one element that plays into this and the measure of it you exert over yourself before controlling how it plays out around you. Bowie was also an occultist so he knows the lust of result and the intention put behind it are crucial elements to any great work. Bowie was very much in control. Even when he was out of control and coke thinking witches were trying to steal his semen. He was always all in with what ever he was doing. While life often threw crazy things at me for the past 30 years his music was a constant no matter what was going on.

This is true even as my taste in music took marginal shifts. Bowie himself was a seeker looking for new sounds and talent. He discovered and developed the careers of artists such as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Luther Vandross, Iggy Pop, Mott the Hoople and Reeves Gabrels. So over the years as varied shades of metal, punk, rock or hard-core changed from being grunged out, emotional, blacker and more independent, Bowie was always relevant in my life. There was never a moment of “Oh, remember when I was into David Bowie?” Some much that I have always been the first person who came to mind when my friends thought of him, so there was a lot of caring words extended to me from them when they learned of this loss. Not only was Bowie a constant, but his influence on the other artists I listened to from Morrissey to Bauhaus to Mogwai and the Cocteau Twins. They have all embodied certain personas through out his career. This fact has only been highlighted over the past day, since I have been able to listen to Bowie with out having a break down. So I delved in some of the more obscure Goth artists like the Legendary Pink Dots, only to hear him there as well. Even metal bears his touch, despite the fact his harder moments are only sprinkled through out his career on albums like “The Man Who Sold the World”, “Aladdin Sane”, “Outside” and the Tin Machine albums. Gene Simmons admitted to Bowie being a huge inspiration to him and how many metal bands would exist without Kiss? Bowie’s influence on music would take a ten part series of blogs, a blog in and of it’s self, and that is only one fraction of the impact he had on my life.

 My sponsor helped me put dealing with the grief in perspective, he said “The Star Man is exactly where he should be, he only came down to Earth to bring the music to the people and his job is done he is going back to the cosmos where he belongs.” In some ways I suppose nothing has changed since he was a legend while he was alive. He is more than just a man with an amazing voice, he is a concept I have watched being passed onto my six year old as she now has memorized his every move in the “Magic Dance “ sequence. I remember when other artists I have love died, Frank Zappa, Freddie Mercury and Shannon Hoon the first and the one with the most impact on me and this feels very different. I have tried to stay off Facebook, as it hurts to see people who could never hold a conversation about Bowie, changing there profile pictures to him. How many people out of almost a thousand had any knowledge of his new album or posted anything about his Birthday last week...22. I am overly sensitive to this right now and feel no need to post a hundred of his videos on social media. I already posted enough over the years, when “The Next Day” came out, when something of his moved me. I can’t listen to him right now, I need to move into a better place and then maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to listen to “Black Star” again. David Bowie Thank you for teaching me lessons that no one else could. That I could feel music with immense passion that covered the whole spectrum of emotion and not just fist pumping rebellious anger, and it was ok to feel those emotions, gender was a fluid expression when in those moments. Thank for teaching us all that just for one day we can heroes, we can be spiders from mars, we can be scary monsters and super creeps.

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