“I don’t know where I’m going from here but I promise it won’t be boring.”
The world wakes up this Monday to a version of itself that makes far less sense, for David Bowie has died, and he has taken with him one of the most singular, searching, and influential careers in the history of popular music.
Born David Robert Jones in Brixton, London, on January 8th 1947, Bowie’s mark on the landscape of music — and culture in general — is ineffable in scale and breadth.
Musically the man was a restless ball of mercurial energy, always searching and seeking, scaling unknown peaks and charting unmapped terrains. He was no tourist or dilettante, however, because whichever genre he happened to inhabit in the moment he would stamp his identity on and confidently make his own. He would make it Bowie. From the trippy space-folk of 1969’s ‘Space Oddity’; through his early 70’s immortal Ziggy glam period; the late 70’s Thin White Duke and his ‘plastic soul’; the electronic-influenced Berlin Trilogy; and the huge crossover appeal of ‘Let’s Dance’ — Bowie forged a remarkable winding path through styles, personas, and presentation that is stunning to behold to this day.
His creative hunger and drive was colossal, and by no means limited to just music — with stagecraft, visual experimentation, theatrical and cinematic forays into acting, and the very nature of identity and perception being amongst his playthings. Bowie showed the world that it was OK to be weird, that you could do your own thing; and that that was the way it should be.
The fact that he was also the Goblin King, Jareth, in Labyrinth is icing on the cake.
One of the strongest aspects of Bowie’s career was the people he surrounded himself and collaborated with. Iggy Pop, Mick Ronson, Lou Reed … Bowie had a dazzling ear for talent.
It is perhaps fitting, then, that the final word go to Iggy himself:
MESSAGE FROM IGGY: "David’s friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is. - Iggy Pop"— Iggy Pop (@IggyPop) 11 Janvier 2016
With Lemmy and now Bowie’s passing it can sometimes be hard to try and make sense of the world. It’s lucky for us that people like that leave behind help — their work. So my advice is: take a day off work, put on his records in chronological order and be taken on a journey of human heart and ingenuity like no other. Rest in glam, Starman.