This is a very personal blog post to thank David Bowie for the music and for the inspiration.
As you probably now, David Bowie passed away on January 10th. It was a sad day for music world and everybody was very shocked. As for me, I had been listening to “Blackstar“, his new album which had been released on January 8th, the whole weekend. I had been looking forward to it since the first single was out in November (and some teasers the year before). And finally on “release Friday” there it was. It felt fresh, new, jazzy, I loved the drums!, the voice, the lyrics were mysterious again but felt defying, intriguing, strong. Sad too. I found the videos to Blackstar and Lazarus very mysterious and at times disturbing and sad. But I just thought it was his way to shock and be artistic in his way.
Monday morning I woke up humming one of the tunes, Lazarus. And then I just read the post on Facebook about him passing away. I was like what? No, NO, he just released an album. Can’t be. Like many others, I checked Twitter, news, comments of fans, the majority not believing it and thought the FB account had been hacked, that it was a hoax and bad joke. Minutes later his son Duncan confirmed it on Twitter. And all the pieces from his album fell into place, suddenly.
And since then I have been in a strange state. Shocked, thoughtful, sad, in disbelief, kind of lost, grieving. And I have spent hours trying to find out why. Probably there is no clear answer, just some thoughts that I had to put down in writing in a way to say thank you. For the influence, music, inspiration, artistry, love for music, innovation, daring to be different…
I actually got into Bowie’s music “for real” back in 2012 when he released “Where are we now?” from the then upcoming album “The Next Day”. I don’t remember how I read/heard about the release of the album, somebody (Per?) must have posted it on FB, or maybe I just saw it on Spotify. I was fascinated by the single, what a strong song, what lyrics, the voice, how the instruments fit together. Magic. So I then started to listen to his other albums. Sure, I knew many of the songs, but most of it was new to me. It was then that a new world opened up for me.
Bowie had always been in my life in a way or another. On one hand, I remember he was on TV, the Freddy Mercury tribute, but I guess I didn’t understand him back then, maybe was too young or thought he was weird, because I really didn’t listen to his music besides the known singles. But at the same time, I felt fascination, respect because he dared to be like that.
On the other hand, he was present mainly because I got to hear about him through my (music) heroes (Marie, Eva D, Per) and other artists that have impacted/inspired me (Nirvana/Kurt Cobain, Melissa Etheridge, Europe, to mention some). My favourite artists mentioned him here and there, whenever they talked about their youth, their roots. They count him as a big influence when they grew up, when they started to make music. I remember comments from Per and Eva the most. I cannot repeat the exact words, but it felt like for both he seemed to be a (the?) reference person for daring to be how they were back in the 70ies, 80ies. Seemed to be the one who helped them accept to be different, themselves. Just how they have helped me. This is how I see it at least (see at the bottom for a collection of references/tributes to David Bowie by Per and other artists).
When you listen to his music you understand why, or at least you can try. If now his music sounds (still) daring and even innovative, imagine how it must have sounded back in the 70ies and 80ies. And what it must have been to hold albums like Space Oddity, Aladdin Sane or Hunky Dory in your hands, play them. Not to talk about his outfits and looks. Pure innovation and reinvention. And as his last album showed us, until the end. I would dare to say that he has experiemented with all styles of music one can think of and more. So with time I realised that David Bowie had inspired as many artists as The Beatles have. In general, if you listen to Bowie’s discography, one cannot help but find similar sounds, references, inspiration in the music done by other artists.
And I also realised some years ago that indirectly he is an important part of my life, too. And in this state of mind one starts to think… without Bowie, what would they have developed into? Would they be who they are now? Would they have done the music they have done? And would they have touched me so deeply with their music as they have?
His death was so sudden. He had released an album just a few days before. It turned out, only his closest ones knew about his fight against cancer, so for many people it was a shock. And when one thinks of it, for the public, for the fans, he left the same way he had been surprising and shocking with his music. And he was ahead of us, again. One last time. To quote his producer Tony Visconti:
He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life — a work of art. He made Blackstar for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.
There are a few (must-read) articles talking about his last creations (the album Blackstar, two videos and the musical Lazarus). He lived for music through and through. And this is one of the things about music and artists that touches me the most.
Of course, my thoughts go to his family and friends. But also to my favourite artist. I wonder how they must be feeling. And I cannot avoid thinking of how I felt back in 2002 when Marie was diagnosed with cancer or Melissa Etheridge some years later – luckily they are still with us!! – Or when some very dear friend/family member has left. It’s just a void you cannot explain and – at least for me – regardless how much time passes by, it doesn’t go away, it just becomes bearable.
Thank you for the music and the inspiration and also the influence on my favourite artists.
David Bowie inspired…
Here is just a collection of references to David Bowie by some of my favourite bands / artists (that have and keep inspiring me) that have touched me through the years and this last week.
Of course, Gyllene Tider’s song “Åh Ziggy Stardust (var blev du av?) from 1980 – in fact I hear a bit of Bowie/Ziggy on the Gyllene Tider album.
Joey Tempest from Europe also mentioned some months ago in an interview that David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” inpired him to write “The Final Countdown”.
One of the performances that I remember very well from back in the 90ies was Nirvana‘s “The Man Who Sold The World”. I used to listen to Nirvana a lot back then and I loved the Unplugged from December 93, one of my favourite performances was their cover of Bowie’s song. Kurt’s death was probably the first of my idols leaving us, I remember that void very well, also because it was the time Crash! Boom! Bang! was released and helped me through it (and other issues) and kept my mind busy with other things.
Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and Melissa Etheridge (listen to her words before she plays!) have covered David Bowie songs this week:
Recently Efva Attling also launched earrings inspired by Bowie, the Ziggy earrings.
It has also been very touching to see fans gathering in various cities to celebrate him and pay tribute to him. Not to mention that my wall has been full of David Bowie articles, videos, pictures, for the past week. Belgian astronomers have registered a constellation dedicated to him (you can add your comments here). His album Blackstar has entered #1 in many charts across the globe, including Billboard and UK. Also many of his albums have entered at different # in various charts (for example, 19 of his albums entered the UK charts) too and have been partly the most streamed these days. Just shows the impact of this iconic musician/singer/songwriter/ARTist/actor etc.