When I talk about influences, I talk a lot of bands in terms of lyrical content and style… but when it comes to attitude, David Bowie has left quite the mark in my life and is one of 3 artists that served as inspiration to choose to be an indie writer and do what I want on my own terms.
Some people say they have range… no one comes close to David Bowie in terms of variety. That he was amazing in so many genres and styles is as amazing as it is bizarre. That he always managed to make it sound Bowie is just a testament to not only talent but soul. He always did whatever he wanted, didn’t feel the need to apologize for anything and as an artist truly and deeply challenged fans to broaden their horizons.
My first real in depth experience with Bowie was with Labyrinth. To this day, it’s a sentimental favorite, one of those movies and soundtracks that just makes me smile and the better option of hairstyle when pitted against Axl Rose in Welcome to the Jungle.
Another massive appeal of Bowie was that even being a true legend, he always seemed casual in his confidence and never cocky to the point of being distasteful. I’m not saying he was humble, by any means. I’m just saying he had class… and plenty of it. Seriously, who else can get away with a potential gay scandal in the 80’s and smile on his way to making another album that just baffles the mind. No one. That’s because when you use the phrase “the stuff of legend”, you see why Bowie was such a legend. The fact that he survived the 70’s is a mystery in and of itself and again, the stuff of legend. That he always challenged himself intensely is the same.
Although always a Bowie fan, it wasn’t until ‘97’s Earthling that I really clicked with him. That album blew me away. When I think of it more, the amazing thing is that he was 50 when he released such an intense album. True, Outsider was darker, but Earthling had so much electronic grit to it, that I couldn’t help but love it. And yes, the cover had a lot to do with that impulse purchase. Wearing a tattered Union Jack coat, the juxtaposition between how he looked and the placid English countryside caught my imagination as he so often has and will continue doing so.
As I dug deeper into his discography, I was amazed time after time and almost regretted having taken 16 years to really appreciate Bowie. I can sum it up thusly, it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite Bowie album. He was a musical chameleon that will never be replicated. He could make you rock with epic tracks like Rebel Rebel, make your imagination soar with Space Oddity, break your heart with Where are we now, make you think with The Man who sold the world or inspire you to throw caution to the wind with Heroes.
He didn’t care what he was supposed to do and it didn’t matter what was in style, because he was style. Throughout his life he was as much a music icon as he was a fashion icon and he had a magnificent talent for looking impeccable even when he was at his oddest.
Apart from the chameleon qualities, what I think was most amazing was how he used his signature instrument. One of the most unique voices in rock, he always got the most of his voice and as his voice evolved, so did his style and music… and never feeling as if he was half assing it or as if he was losing it. A lot of singers have their voice quit on them because they force it… but with Bowie, nothing ever felt forced. Ever.
Today we celebrate a legacy. Millions will listen to his music. Many will see his film appearances and a wave of gratitude will soar across the world.
As for David, my deepest thanks for the influence to follow my path, the inspiration to dance with all my muses, for music that will be with me as long as I live, and for being a hero, though for more than just one day.
Peace, love, and stardust