Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On Bowie

I didn't grow up on David Bowie. By the time I really started listening to music and paying attention to it, his solo career was dead. I'm sure I heard some of his songs as a kid, "Dancing on the Street" in particular, but for the most part he was just that guy from Labyrinth, a movie I didn't much care for as a kid (though I would gain a fondness for it later in life.) I'm pretty sure I really only knew of his existence outside of the abstract as part of Tin Machine, whose "Under the God" hit right about the time I really started to listen to what was on the radio. And I definitely had a fondness for "Space Oddity" thanks to its frequent plays by Doctor Demento.

And even though I delved far deeper than much of my generation into music of the 60s, 70s and 80s, Bowie wasn't really part of that. But two influences drew me into his work. Mike Allred's comic Red Rocket 7 featured Bowie (and dozens of other musicians) as a character started my interest in Ziggy Stardust. I started to listen to early era Bowie, although not deeply. I didn't really start my deep look at the glam rock era until Life on Mars.

Though a very strange and not particularly good American version was made, I am referring to the UK series named after the classic Bowie song. It was a show that mixed reality with fantasy on weird levels, which isn't all that far from what I write. My fandom of the show and its heavy use of Bowie's music in the show (right down to the title) inspired me to finally start delving into his career and I finally started to get Bowie.

David Bowie's entire life was a constant exercise in reinvention. For five decades, he made music in nearly every genre imaginable and did it with style and flair. His cosmos spanning Ziggy Stardust era has become something of an influence on an upcoming star-spanning novel. (I suspect some of the recently released Blackstar will slip in there as well.)

I've regularly featured much of his work in playlists that back my writing work on various stories over the years. "Changes" and his rendition of "All the Young Dudes" have remained on my various audio devices for nearly a decade. Every novel I've written in the last few years probably had Bowie playing in the background at least once during its production.

But it is always the reinvention I come back to when I think of Bowie, gone too soon. As I get older myself, his work and its evolution mean more and more to me, especially as I take more chances in writing. And the life and career of David Bowie makes me just a bit braver as I set down whatever path I choose to take.

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