David Bowie’s music changed my life
David Bowie’s music changed my life
How David Bowie’s music changed my life
David Bowie’s music changed my life in a massive way. I like to think of myself when it comes to music as being a child of all times. Some say that they are a child of the 1960s, others of the 1970s or the 1980s onwards. I was born in the late 1950s but I never really liked the music of the 60s. I didn’t like music at all, I had no interest
David Bowie’s music changed my mind
It was 1972 and I was a teenager at a school disco when I heard my first David Bowie song. It was a compulsory disco so I had no choice but to be there.
I heard the record start to play, and the guitar started to play the introduction to a song I had never heard before. Then David Bowie sang the words I will never forget.
“Oh, Oh, yeah!
Ziggy played guitar jamming good with Weird and Gilly and the Spiders from Mars.
He played it left hand but made it too far, Became the special man, Then we were Ziggy’s band.”
It was at that moment I became a fan of David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. I had no clue who this person who was singing at the time was and had to ask the DJ who it was, shouting over the music he told me “David Bowie”
How David Bowie’s music made me feel
As I recall listening to Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars I remember the excitement of hearing something completely new. somehow the music took me out of myself and it made me want to dance. I never danced before, I didn’t know how to dance. But I wanted to move to that song.
The music of David Bowie touched me on an emotional level that I had never experienced before, not just in the 1970s but into the 80s and 2000s.
Wild is the Wind
One of my favourite songs is from the album Station to Station and that is Wild is the Wind. This song begins with the words “Love me, love me, love me, love me, say you do. Let me fly away with you. For my love is like the wind. And wild is the wind, wild is the wind.”
The words are beautiful and sung soulfully by David Bowie. I sat silently listening and taking in the words, and they have stayed with me throughout the years. To my surprise, some years later, I discovered that the song is a cover version of a song written by Nina Simone. Click here to read more about the song
Another song that has really moved me emotionally over the years is Thursday Child, from the 1999 album Hours. As I listen to this song I feel that David Bowie is conscious of his mortality, a midlife crisis song. I am not being dismissive by saying that it is just a feeling I have whenever I listen to it.
Something about me stood apart
A whisper of hope that seemed to fail
Maybe I’m born right out of my time
Breaking my life in two
Everyone says hi
David Bowie’s music is very diverse I don’t think I can say that one album is like the last one. in 2002 David Bowie released an album called Heathen. One of my favourite tracks on it is Everyone Says Hi. The format of the song is like a letter written to someone who has gone away. There is a sense of concern in the song for the person who has gone away and telling them that they are welcome to come back home at any time.
The song says “Said you’d took a big trip, they said you moved away. Happened oh so quietly, they say. Should’ve took a picture, something I could keep. Buy a little frame, something cheap, For you. Everyone says hi” Though this may be a fictitious letter for a fictitious person that David Bowie sings about you can see and feel the humanity, the concern and maybe even a love for this person in the song.
Other people like me
As I discovered more music by David Bowie I also discovered more people who thought like me. People who danced like me and dressed in a way I admired.
People who loved David Bowie’s music were very expressive in the way they danced, dressed and thought. I never met a David Bowie fan that didn’t consider themselves different. Though we had also a lot in common too.
The kind of music that you would find us dancing to and listening to besides David Bowie were bands like Roxy Music, T-Rex and Cockney Rebel.
David Bowie’s music through the 2000s
David Bowie released four studio albums between 2002 to 2016. The first album in 2002 was Heathen, followed by Reality in 2003. There was a ten year pause before The Next Day album was released and finally just after David Bowie’s death in 2016, Blackstar was released.
There are 12 tracks on the Heathen album. The tracks I enjoy most are Everyone says Hi, which I have mentioned previously. I took a trip on a Gemini Spacecraft.
Everyone Says Hi
As I listen to this song, it reminds me of a letter that you might send to someone who has suddenly go away a long way away. The lyrics say “Said you’d took a big trip, They said you moved away, Happened oh so quietly, they say.
The song goes on as I said like a letter to someone saying that everyone says hi to them. Later in the song, David Bowie shows concern for the person he is writing to say “Don’t stay in a bad place, where they don’t care how you are, Everyone says hi”
A beautiful and kind song that I enjoy listening to time and time again.
I took a trip on a Gemini Spacecraft
I took a trip on a Gemini Spacecraft is the space song on Heathen and David Bowie doesn’t disappoint. The track starts with a staccato guitar riff and then David Bowie sings “Took a trip on a Gemini spacecraft and I thought about you. I passed through the shadow of Jupiter, and I thought about you.”
I like the upbeat feel of this song. The thing that struck me about this song is that the astronaut is seeing Jupiter, saw two or three flying saucers and parked under the stars but he was still thinking about the one he is singing to.
The Reality album was released in 2003 almost a year after Heathen. Reality lists eleven tracks.
The Loneliest Guy
The Loneliest Guy is a character that is pondering his life. The song has almost a post-apocalyptic feel to the words. The whole song definitely has an atmosphere to it. David Bowie sings “Street’s damp and warm, empty smell metal weeds between buildings. Pictures on my hard drive, but I’m the luckiest guy, not the loneliest guy.” You definitely get the feeling that he isn’t either the luckiest but definitely the loneliest guy. Give it a listen I know if you are a David Bowie fan you will love it.
The Next Day (2013)
When I saw the cover of the album The Next Day, which was released ten years after Reality, I thought it would be a sequel to Hero’s. The album cover was the same cover as Hero’s but with a white sheet over the picture with the words “The Next Day”. I was of course wrong as David Bowie never seems to repeat himself. This original album has fourteen tracks, there is also an extended version that has a massive twenty-four tracks.
There were a couple of singles that come to mind that was taken from The Next Day album and they are, “Where Are We Now?” and The Stars (are out tonight) There are so many great songs on here it is difficult to choose one or two but I will try.
The Stars (are out tonight)
The memorable thing about the track The Stars (are out tonight) is of course the video that went with it. David Bowie and Tilda Swinton play a married couple who appear to be haunted by their younger counterparts who seem to want to replace them. David Bowie sings in earnest about the ‘stars’, singing “Stars are never sleeping, Dead ones and the living” The song continues describing the stars as being restless and jealous of mere mortals and waiting to make their move.
I’d rather be high
I’d rather be high is another powerful guitar song with David Bowie once again singing in earnest the words “I’d rather be high (I’d rather be high), I’d rather be flying (I’d rather be flying) I’d rather be dead or out of my head, Than training these guns on those men in the sand, I’d rather be high” This sounds very much like an anti-war song, which I don’t ever recall David bowie writing a song like this before.
I would recommend listening to this track and having the words in front of you. Though this song may sound light, the words are profound
Blackstar was released in January 2016, my birthday month, and the birthday of David Bowie. Sadly, the same month that David died too. For me, Blackstar feels like a goodbye from David Bowie.
The unusual thing about the Blackstar album is that it hasn’t been described as a pop or rock album but as a jazz album. That is because when he recorded Blackstar, he used jazz musicians in the studio.
Blackstar has seven tracks on it, though the title track Blackstar lasts a full ten minutes, beating Queens Bohemian Rhapsody by for minutes. Of course, for me, the two tracks that stand out for me are Blackstar and Lazarus.
If you watch the Blackstar video you would imagine, like me, that it is the final goodbye to Major Tom. In the video, you see Major Tom’s spacesuit with a skeleton smiling out of the helmet. On the suit, you see a yellow smiley sticker, the kind you see when it relates to smoking weed. Seeing this immediately made me think of Ashes to Ashes and the lyrics “Ashes to ashes, funk to funky, We know Major Tom’s a junkie, Strung out in heaven’s high Hitting an all-time low.”
If you were to Google the lyrics “Something happened on the day he died, Spirit rose a metre then stepped aside. Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried (I’m a blackstar, I’m a blackstar) You will come up with a multitude of websites saying that they know the meaning of the song. But for me, it is enough David Bowie wrote it without having to understand it.
You may be aware of the person in the Bible who died called Lazarus who Jesus raised from the dead after Lazarus’ sisters told Jesus he was too late to help their brother. Since that time Lazarus has been linked to death and resurrection from the dead.
In the song Lazarus, there isn’t actually any reference to that name, but in it, I feel that David Bowie is expressing what he is going through after his cancer diagnosis. The words “Look up here, I’m in heaven, I’ve got scars that can’t be seen” speaks of his awareness of his own mortality and possibly death.
David Bowie’s final words of Lazarus say “You know, I’ll be free, Just like that bluebird, now, ain’t that just like me? Oh, I’ll be free, just like that bluebird! Oh, I’ll be free”
The death of David Bowie
David Bowie died on the 10th of January 2016 from liver cancer. When I saw the videos for Blackstar and Lazarus, I could see there that he didn’t look well, he had lost a lot of weight and looked gaunt. But I wasn’t expecting to hear that he had died.
Reflecting on how I felt at the news of his death, I felt like I had lost a lifelong friend. I had never met David Bowie and sadly I never attended any of his live concerts, but I felt I knew a little through his music and words.
I have lost loved ones and family and the grief for them is deeper, but when David Bowie died, I felt I had lost a part of myself. I realised that there would be no new music. It felt like an end of an era to me.
I am grateful to David Bowie and his music, he opened a whole world of music I would never have discovered if I hadn’t heard the song Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Because of David Bowie’s music, I discovered artists such as Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan and a lot of the New Wave bands that followed.
I am also grateful to the DJ who played his music at the school disco which opened my eyes to music. He went on to work on a local radio station in Hinckley, Leicestershire and now has a YouTube channel called Hinckley and District Past and Present
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