Celebrating and Remembering David Bowie
"Put on your red shoes and dance the blues."
David Bowie, Let's Dance.
It was a thing none of us expected. How could we know that David Bowie would leave us at the age of 69? It was one of the first bits of news I learned when I got online Monday morning, and I just couldn't believe it. At first, I thought it was one of those Internet hoaxes, but it wasn't. It was true.
So what did I do? I did the only thing I could think of to do: I cried, and then I listened to his music. I searched my own CD collection and came up with just one Bowie CD: David, Live, interestingly enough, one of his few albums (maybe the only one?) recorded in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, to be specific, in the year 1974.
And then I turned to YouTube, which is one of the most marvelous inventions, as it makes a great cultural repository. I go there all the time to listen to my favorite music. I thought that for today's posting, I'd share MORE than one song: in fact, here's a short list of some of my favorite Bowie tunes, in no particular order.
David Bowie and Mick Jagger, Dancing in the Street
Tina Turner and David Bowie, Let's Dance
Queen and David Bowie, Under Pressure
and just the vocal track of Freddie and David
and the rehearsal of Annie Lennox and David Bowie of Under Pressure for the Freddie Mercury tribute concert
As the World Falls Down, from Labyrinth
Magic Dance, from Labyrinth
Heroes, the original version
and an acoustic version at the Bridge School Concert
David Bowie and Bing Crosby, The Little Drummer Boy
Tina Turner and David Bowie, Tonight
Golden Years, from A Knight's Tale
David Bowie and John Lennon, Fame
I would like to add a personal note about what David Bowie has meant to me. First, there's the music, of course, which has been a major part of the soundtrack of my life. His songs about dancing, I find especially joyful! And yes, I do get up and dance!
Then there's the impeccable personal style and dress: he's been a fashion maven pretty much forever, with a hipness factor that's simply off the charts. Did anybody ever dress as well as David Bowie?
I can't speak much to his films, as I've only seen two of them: The Hunger (which I just watched again last week, oddly enough), and Labyrinth. Both of these I have enjoyed immensely.
You will find far more listings for his music than for his films on the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com); in a search today, I came up with 450-some entries for his appearances on soundtracks alone. (!!!)
Other than his music, the thing I appreciated most about David Bowie, the person, was how he could raise being peculiar to an art form. He didn't just let his freak flag fly quietly; he got it right out there in front of him, as a thing to celebrate and rejoice in.
For all of us who have ever secretly suspected we were too odd to ever amount to anything or even to be liked (and you might be surprised how many people that includes; I certainly would find myself among that group), the absolute coolness of David Bowie offered hope.
Do what you want, dress how you want, be who you want, but OWN it; glory in the beautiful, crazy, mixed-up, strange unique creature that is you. For there is only one you, now and forever. (Yeah, baby!)
If you asked me for my favorite Bowie tune, I'd have no trouble telling you what it is: the song Heroes, which he wrote with Brian Eno in 1977. I find the song to be a tremendous source of strength and hope; I feel stronger and more able to help save the world every time I listen to it!
We can beat them, forever and ever
Oh we can be heroes, just for one day
As long as the music lives, he lives too.
Go well, David. Thank you for the music.
You will always be one of my heroes.