I got up a bit early expecting to get some work done and got hit with the most terrible news. David Bowie has died from cancer, just after his 69th birthday. News and some early tributes here. I was actually thinking the other day what celebrity deaths will hit me the hardest. For instance, my wife will be absolutely devastated whenever Michael Jordan passes. David Bowie hadn't really crossed my mind, since he did seem eternal, but, yes, this is a hard one to take...
I don't think I can really add anything to the conversation, since I didn't know him and am not a musical artist inspired by him. I did admire the fact that he was one of the few rock/pop artists to not play it safe and he kept changing up his styles. I have and like most of his last albums (and in fact I am one of the few people who think there is a lot of great material on the two Tin Machine albums). I had been planning on ordering his brand new CD, and will obviously make that order today (just deciding if it is worth finding something to add to the cart for free shipping and am just about settled on Outside, which is one of the few later Bowie CDs I don't own*). In particular, I really liked Earthling.
Anyway, it's sort of amusing, since I am on a jazz listserv but I am gradually getting disenchanted with the drift of the board -- and the members who are still the most active tend to be the more annoying ones. Maybe that is inevitable with anything that lasts over 10 years. In fact, I pretty much only post on the non-music threads about what I have been reading and art exhibits I have attended. Most of the posts so far have been along the lines of I never liked/got his music, but RIP. Everyone just has to posture and maintain their high art credentials. It's probably another sign that I should just move on and not spend any more time on that site, since the rewards for me are definitely diminishing...
I managed to see Bowie in concert twice -- once in 1990 on the Sound +
Vision Tour (when he was supposedly retiring all his hits -- glad he
didn't stick to to that). We were actually in the 2nd row (which is absolutely improbable, but the internet hadn't made things such an impossibility then). I'm sorry to say I can't remember anything other than Bowie (he apparently wanted people to watch the dancers on the scrim), but I certainly enjoyed myself.
And then in 2004, the Reality tour, which of course was his last tour. That was an amazing though very loud tour, and I'm glad it was put out on DVD, which I do own of course. I wish we had stuck around for the 2nd! encore which was Panic in Detroit, but it is a relatively minor regret, as it was late and my wife was very pregnant with our son, so getting home was a priority.
I was hoping that he would tour The Next Day, though it seemed unlikely at the time. I had no idea that he was nearly as ill as he was. Given his secretive nature, I assume few people knew he had cancer. Anyway, in terms of going out on his own terms (or as much as one ever can), I am thrilled that he managed to complete Black Star and that it is another swerve into left field. I only wish he had been healthier and better able to enjoy the accolades that he had already gotten and will continue to get for his last album. (Since I did just order Black Stars and Outside I might even have them by the end of the week and I can listen and reflect on loss and alienation, which were fairly common themes that Bowie returned to again and again.)
* I think I had a mental block on this one, not that I don't think I'd like the material but that back when I was living in Rogers Park in Chicago in the mid 1990s there was a CD store that had Outside Version 2 (bundled with the bonus CD) in the racks. I stupidly passed on it and have been kicking myself ever since. I suppose you can get too hung up on those alternative versions. Most likely the only thing I would have really felt that lived up to the hype was the Pet Shop Boys remix of Hallo Spaceboy, and that isn't that hard to track down on Youtube nowadays.