I’m not sure when the earliest time I listened to David Bowie, but his first album was released 2 years after I was born.
One of his best albums “Space Oddity” was released in 1969 when I was four, so by then I was likely already dancing to his music.
By the time I was 10 years old, David Bowie had already released some of his masterpiece works in:
Space Oddity (1969),
Hunky Dory (1971),
The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972),
Aladdin Sane (1973),
Diamond Dogs (1974),
and Young Americans (1975)
In 1980, David Bowie released Scary Monsters. I learned about this album at that time as a 15 year old teenager who was already sneaking into Luv-a-fair, which was a legendary dance club in Vancouver.
The video was a continuation of Major Tom from Bowie’s 69 hit “Space Oddity”. In retrospect I was not yet a man and I really didn’t understand the lyrics but I did know he intrigued and challenged me with his art. I wanted to see more, to hear more, and few artists or musicians at that time grabbed my thoughts like he did.
It’s hard to imagine that I was only 15 when I first saw David Bowie’s video for “Ashes to Ashes” being projected on the club’s main wall. Videos were a hugely influential part of how I found what fashion, music, art, and film that I wanted to learn about or emulate as a young man still finding his path. The video for “Ashes to Ashes” was so unique and creative that I would stop dancing and sit and watch the video with eyes full of wonder. David Bowie touched my young being with his talent and his weird world. I wanted to be more weird, more daring, because he was helping show me the way.
In 1995, when I was 40 years old and no longer clubbing all the time I first heard David Bowie’s ’90’s masterpiece “Outside”. I would play that CD ( because it was all about CD by the 90’s ) on repeat. One of my favourite songs was “The Hearts Filthy Lesson” with the massive and powerful drum and scorching guitar led by the strong and sexy voice of Bowie bashing through. So melodic yet punchy and kicking that fulfilled an artistic, animal passion in me.
Another song “Hallo Spaceboy” was one that David Bowie and Brian Eno co-wrote the song together. Showing how Bowie was continuing to innovate and be his own artist, his toured with NIN for his Outside album. This video shows one of his 1995 shows:
His collaboration showed his lack of fear of the darkness, the hard edges, and actually how that was place was very comfortably being. It was partly a reaction to his “Let’s Dance’ popularity that added a mainstream fanbase that was too restrictive for his diverse and artistic talents.
Now we are 2015 and I’m 50 and David Bowie releases his final masterpiece Blackstar 2 days before his 69th birthday. Again Bowie is at his finest in knowing who he is as an artist. Edgy, challenging, creative, and moving, just like many of his other albums.
I’m still watching the Maestro through video because that has been the medium that has joined us together since I was just a young teenager. I can’t imagine thinking of David Bowie without the visuals of his videos to guide me through his songs. It gave me a last glimpse into his brillant mind as he shared with me his most personal moments. His knew somehow the importance of talking about mortality as I deal with it in my life as I learn I’m not immortal as I once thought at a 15 year old boy.
David Bowie in Lazarus looks old and aged and worn, but that’s what makes him so beautiful to me. He has a look of exposure, of no barriers, which many artists strive for their entire life. I hope that is what he felt in his heart, because I saw in his movements, in his eyes. Bowie was once again guiding me as he had much of my adult life on how journey forward and be human or freak or alien or whatever you are.
Now looking back, there is that creative thread of Major Tom, the Spaceboy, and me looking with wide open eyes as he leads me further until we all will be just a Black star.
Shine bright Bowie up there, while we strive to live down here. You’ve always shown so bright for me.