I hope I haven’t over sold this post. It’s taken me 365 days to write it because every time I’ve sat down to write some thoughts on what Bowie meant to me, I’ve eventually reached for the delete key. Just where do you start?
Well, maybe with some of my favourite Bowie moments that have stayed with me over the years. Here goes…
That Trent Reznor Duet
Exceptional song, exceptional voice, exceptional duet. Just one of my favourite Bowie collaborations, but you could also pick Satellite of Love or Tonight. He always seemed to find that perfect harmony.
I’m closer to the Golden Dawn
Immersed in Crowley’s uniform
I’m living in a silent film
Portraying Himmler’s sacred realm
Of dream reality
Now, I have no idea what these lyrics from Quicksand actually mean, the fun has been inventing that meaning over the years. When I was 20 I thought: ‘Oh, this is a nice song about love’. Now, at 40, I think: ‘This is a man trying to grabble with reason to work out the meaning of life’. Either that’s down to the multiplicity of the song here, or I’m currently having a mid-life crisis. You decide!
Peppers and Milk
Just Google it. Along with his initial clash with Kraftwerk. Or the time he hooked up with Iggy in Berlin when they weren’t doing drugs. Or the inspiration for ‘Heroes’.
Even if you erased all memory of Bowie’s music, we’d still be captivated by the stories. You just couldn’t make them up. Or could you?
Hang On To Yourself
When times are dark, that’s good advice. Trust me.
You can find quite a few awkward interviews with Bowie online. These always make me cringe because I’ve been there as a music journalist, interviewing your heroes and then, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t go to plan. Still, that doesn’t make these clips less hilarious.
That Glastonbury Moment
I’ll always remember seeing Bowie for the first time at Glastonbury. He was due to perform at around 7.30pm, the sun was beginning to set, we were all hovering around our tents chatting. Down in the valley you could hear the band sound-checking at the Pyramid stage. Then about five minutes later the band kicked off well before their scheduled time with ‘Wild Is The Wind’. When Bowie began to sing the crowd went nuts and rushed over. It could have been carnage I suppose but it all worked out. A true wow-ie moment.
One day an email popped into my inbox promoting a remastered version of Aladdin Sane. I was about to delete it until I spotted that the label was offering a special playback of the album at Abbey Road studios. Naturally, I signed up immediately. When I got to the studios there were only a couple of rock magazine journalists and about three staff from the label. We sat on some comfy chairs in one of the studios where, no doubt, some of the best albums in the world had been recorded and listened to the remastered album through the mixing desk.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been invited to a listening ‘party’ but they’re always slightly awkward. You don’t really talk, you sort of sit in silence and then have a chat afterwards. The guy I happened to site next to turned out to be one of Bowie’s previous managers Alan Edwards. He made a great comment: ‘For someone famous for being so against the romantic notion of the artist, a lot of his songs are very romantic and, to me at least, so very personal.’
I could go on, but that pretty much says it all for me. In the weeks following Bowie’s death I revisited his albums again, especially those that I’d rejected previously. On ‘The Next Day’ there’s a beautiful track ‘Where Are We Now?’ and I’d like to think this is the real Bowie, David Jones, reflecting on his past. There is something about the recording that sounds so vulnerable and honest compared to tracks from Blackstar.
Of course, I have no idea if I’m right or wrong and I guess that’s the reason why I find the man and his music so fascinating. Who the hell was he? I guess I’ll still be trying to figure that out in years to come.
Bye Bye for now.