Thousands of words will be written about David Bowie today after he died of cancer, an illness the public didn’t even know he had.
In retrospect Black Star, released just a few days ago on Bowie’s 69th birthday, does sound like a farewell but hindsight is a wonderful thing and would we really wanted to have first listened to the album knowing the creator of it, and so much more, would soon be gone, that it would prove to be a parting gift?
Legend, genius, icon, these words all get bandied about too much but David Bowie fitted them as few others do. He carved his own path and reinvented himself again and again each time getting it just right. From androgynous starman to playing a goblin king in Labarynth. who can forget Magic Dance? By the end with songs like where are we now and the final, heartbreaking, Lazarus he became all too real.
At no time has a song been more perfect than Heroes as Chris Hoy led the British Olympians out at London 2012, a moment Chris Hoy said he would never forget. The story of that song is well known and makes the political personal as two lovers meet by the Berlin wall with gunfire flying about them. A performance of the song by David Bowie at the Berlin Wall in 1987 led to rioting and is credited with helping eventually bring the wall down. The German foreign office today paid tribute to him and the Berlin Mayor says it became the hymn of the divided city. In spite of this he was far from a political or protest singer.
The fact that so many different tributes contain different songs show the huge depth of music he released. Everyone seems to have their own favourite song and favourite period. Each is equally inspiring and valid. More than anything he helped make it ok to be different after all he was himself. It’s what made him interesting.
One thing that’s sure is that up to the last he surprised us, inspired us and his music was always a breath of fresh air. Quite simply he made the world a much more interesting place just by being in it and making music.
One of my favourite stories is how he caught a star that fell from the roof of the Barrowlands as he sound checked for his gig there. He pocketed it and it’s believed to still be in his house in Paris.
Anyway, time for you to stop reading these ramblings and go and listen to some Bowie.