Monday, January 11, 2016

Farewell, David Bowie

When talking about David Bowie, it's often tempting to bypass the music and go straight for the cultural impact, and as far as pop stars transforming the larger culture goes, Bowie is in that rare class that includes Elvis and The Beatles. In a lot of ways, Bowie built on a lot of The Beatles' innovations with the way his music evolved radically from disc to disc, how he created and embodied characters (though there was much more commitment behind his Ziggy Stardust than there was behind Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts club Band), and how he blew up gender stereotypes (though, once again, claiming he was gay at a time when that kind of thing was almost guaranteed to ruin careers was even more courageous than men wearing their hair long ten years earlier). These aren't just the kind of things that make biographies and history books fatter; they actually changed the way artists made their art and altered the way people in all walks of life live. 
Still, David Bowie would not have had such seismic effects if his music wasn't so incredible, and as is also the case with The Beatles, it's the music that will continue to have the most profound affect on the world: the storytelling of "Space Oddity" and "Ashes to Ashes", the follow-me-if-you-dare experimentation of Low, the you-have-no-choice-but-to-follow-me transcendence of "Heroes" and "Life on Mars?" There's so much to discover and rediscover in David Bowie's vast catalog of music, and so little of it has aged. Although we have sadly lost the man to cancer at the age of 69, that music remains deathless and timeless. Spin some today. I know I will.
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