David Bowie, Remembering a Legend
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On January 8, 1947 a boy was born in Brixton, a city in south London. He grew an affinity for singing and performing arts in school, and his talents were deemed “adequate” by the school choir. Little did they know, this young performer would grow to be one of the most influential artists in modern music and impact lives all over the world.
David Robert Jones, more commonly known by his artist name, David Bowie, became wildly popular with releases of best selling albums such as “Space Oddity” in 1968, “Hunky Dory” in 1971, and “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars” in 1972. All of these albums went platinum on both the United States and the UK charts.
In these albums, he cemented his presence as an artist that wasn’t afraid to push the boundaries. His long sprawling albums were made as epics with each song contributing to a particular character or storyline. He is considered the “father of punk” for making music that challenged the mainstream, which heavily influenced the punk music movement.
His fashion sense seemed to match his music in how seemingly strange and different it was. Painting his face and wearing exaggerated clothing furthered the public’s view of his unwillingness to change for the mainstream and keeping his fashion sense as a powerful statement against what was considered normal.
In some lyrics of his early work, he reached out to others like him; other people that didn’t want to seem like everyone else, and wanted to stand out in their own way. In 1972’s song “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide” he bellows, “Oh no love, you’re not alone! Give me your hands because you’re wonderful!”
He emerged again in the 1980s with another trio of mega selling classic albums: 1980’s “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” 83’s “Let’s Dance” and 84’s “Tonight.”
In this stage of his career, he successfully adapted his strange style to the trends at the time. One of his most celebrated singles, “Let’s Dance,” is viewed as one of the greatest dance tracks of all time. Although it took trends from songs around at the time, there is some unmistakable off-kilter Bowie within.
Bowie fans were met with an emotional roller coaster this past week. First the release of one of his best albums in decades, “Blackstar,” which was released on Bowie’s birthday. Three days later, the news was confirmed that Bowie had died from cancer he had been battling for the last year and a half.
Many people were impacted by the death. David Bowie was a large discussion point for people growing up at the time, and his release of stellar classics and memorable songs influenced the music world forever.
Listening to Blackstar, it became clear to listeners and fans he knew it would be his last album. Some lyrics are about his impending death and some about his afterlife. The album title itself “Blackstar” is a reference to a star that becomes blackened by the end of its life.
The song “Lazarus” has lyrics that reference his death and afterlife. “Look at me I am in heaven, I have scars that can’t be seen.” The eerie effect of listening to a dead icon sing about his passing gives an almost surreal listening experience.
In the music video for the title track “Blackstar,” he appears in a hospital bed from which he rises above. All of these references to the tragedy makes listening to the album an unique and emotional experience. It’s hard not to feel a close connection with the superstar as you listen to songs and lyrics that he knew would be his final moments in music.
The final track of the album titled “I Can’t Give Everything Away” is the last song Bowie ever released. The instrumental is from a previous song of his, forcing the listener to look back at his career. The lyric “I Can’t Give Everything, Away” repeats and fades off slowly into the instrumental. A final goodbye from one of music’s most celebrated artists.
David Bowie lived to be 69 years old, but his impact will last forever. An icon of not conforming to what is considered normal, he is praised for supporting individuality and showing it through his music. The rock and roll legend will live on forever through his influences and the hearts of everyone graced by his music. Rest in Peace David Bowie January 8th 1947 – January 10th 2016.