I started this blog with David Bowie. Now that the David Bowie Is exhibition is in TO, I listened again to his music, especially the 1970’s stuff which I missed out on during my FOB days. Then I was surrounded by the sounds of Black Sabbath and Nazareth and by the time I became friends with a girl who came to Canada from England, she was into Elton John already. So I discovered Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust belatedly.
I loved the album cover. The music was great, the words were great, the idea of a story that was the quintessential rise and fall of this other worldly character. He even had a bit of Jacques Brel in him. When I now watched the videos of those performances, it’s amazing how good they were. Theatrical, outrageous rock’n’roll at its best. Bowie always surrounded himself with great musicians – Mick Ronson, Trevor Bolder.
Watching his videos from 1970’s to 2000’s, you sort of age with him. He managed to do that with style – still looked so cool in 2002, doing “Rebel, Rebel”. That was two years before his brush with mortality. It’s reassuring and poignant to see a musician, an actor marked by the passage of time, just as we are. If they’re lucky enough. Mick Ronson died of liver cancer at around 46. Trevor Bolder died at 62 of pancreatic cancer. Bowie himself almost didn’t make it through his twenties – cocaine, heroin and the craziness of too much.
He seemed ruthless in his pursuit of fame. As driven as any master of the universe. I wonder if the act mattered more to him, or the artistry. I’m not sure that I liked the person he was then. I read something about him admiring Nazi memorabilia when he was young. Maybe it wasn’t true, but if it was, disappointing he would think that.
I saw Bowie on September 3, 1983, during his Serious Moonlight tour. It was at a huge venue. I had a terrible seat, far back. I didn’t love Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” album. It seemed too slick. Didn’t have the energy and strangeness of earlier Bowie music.
I haven’t seen the David Bowie Is exhibit yet. I’m waiting for the crowds to die down a bit. Maybe go on a weekday. Take a day off work, go, put on the headphones and forget about feeling old.