I was never a huge fan of David Bowie’s.
I mean, I liked his music, had a few records, and generally enjoyed his work, but I was never a super-fan, and never had a full-on Bowie fever.
So why am I so sad today? And why can’t I stop reading about him?
David Bowie is actually associated with one of my worst memories from high school.
I wanted to be the yearbook editor my senior year. I’d started working on the yearbook staff when I was a freshman (which frosh usually didn’t do), was generally acknowledged to be ‘the writer’ in my class (not that hard, really, in a class of 150), and fully expected that the adviser, Ms. G., would appoint me.
She did not.*
L. and T. were appointed instead, and I’d be pissed about it to this today had they not a) put together a kick-ass yearbook; and b) treated me really, really well, allowing me to contribute in all kinds of way. They were champs.
Anyway, my idea was to create a yearbook around the lyrics to “Changes”—which is how Bowie gets dragged into this bad memory.
I have no idea whether or not this would have worked: it could have been amazing, it could have sucked, it could have been Eh.
Woulda liked the chance to have found out.
(*She had her reasons, which were legit. Still. . . .)
I’ve said “Under Pressure” is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but today I’ve read all kinds of pieces holding that song out as some kind of genius.
I don’t think it’s genius, but yeah, it is a good pop song, undeserving of the guilty-pleasure label.
One good thing that’s come from all this reading today is that I found, courtesy of the Huffington Post, a couple of videos of Bowie playing with Arcade Fire.
First I saw this one, one of Bowie’s songs:
Then one of Arcade Fire’s:
I like Arcade Fire’s cds just fine, but watching them live, man, I realllly want to see them live.
What it would have been like to see them live with Bowie.
I think the main reason I considered “Under Pressure” a guilty pleasure is that every time I hear it I tear up.
I cannot handle my own tears, cannot handle that I am moved to tears.
It’s kind of astonishing how amazing a singer Bowie was, given that he didn’t have much of a voice.
He’s not like Leonard Cohen, who can’t sing at all, but if I were asked for the best straight-up voices in pop, I wouldn’t name Bowie.
But oh, could he sing, so many different types of songs, with so many different types of singers. Some of these collaborations (Arcade Fire) work better than others (Mick Jagger), it wasn’t down to him.
Something about that thin reed, stretched across the universe.
“Space Oddity” reminds me of John Lennon. I don’t know why. Maybe I heard it while thinking about Lennon’s death.
Or maybe it just reminds me of high school.
It’s not every time I hear the song I’m reeled back, but sometimes, sometimes I’m in the parking lot at Sheboygan Falls High School, Bowie on the car radio, singing And I’m sitting in my tin can. . . .
“Under Pressure” is about love, after all.
And love, I don’t know what to do with love.
Thus my chagrin over my tears, my chagrin over love.
And all of the work he’s done, all of the chances he took, all he gave and all he withheld, all he hid and all he revealed.
David Bowie, 1947-2016, was a Starman, a man who fell to earth, an alien, an artist, but most of all, most of all, David Bowie was a human being.