Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The exit of the Thin White Duke

Fan tribute (The Economist, 11 January 2016)
Wow - David Bowie died. I can't quite get my head around it.

I was thinking a wee while ago - a few months, so perhaps last October - that I hadn't seen any activity from him for a while. I think he was a three year cycle kind of guy. Incubate/create, finesse, release.

Instead, illness is probably a contributor to why we have heard little.

Though, two days ago, he apparently released his final album, Blackstar. I will be interested to hear it, but am fairly sure, that like Queen's later stuff, that I probably won't connect with it strongly.

In reading about Bowie on the Guardian's website today, I wasn't aware that he had started life as an actor, not a singer and song-writer (Davies & Helmore, 11 January 2016).

I guess honouring the man who saved my sanity at Mangohane Station wouldn't be a bad thing. I was up-country for two weeks with one book and two cassette tapes. I hadn't taken anything with me, but collectively the group had Carole King's Tapestry and David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. Two cassettes for two weeks, played end over end to keep me sane. Hah! Aladdin Sane keeping me sane :-)

Carole King faded fast, but Ziggy Stardust has lasted the listening distance ...a distance of thirty years.

However, for me it is Heroes that resonates most. We can be heroes. Just for one day.

I wish I could swim, like the dolphins in swing; though nothing will keep us together. We can beat them forever and ever.
I will be king. You will be queen. Though nothing will drive us away. We can be heroes just for one day. We can be us just for one day.
I can remember standing by the wall. And the guns shot above our heads and we kissed as though nothing could fall.
And the shame was on the other side. Oh, we can beat them, forever and ever.
We can be heroes, just for one day.

It is all in the performance, the pacing, the delivery, the drama, the music.

While I knew he married Angie Bowie, and the couple had a son named Zowie Bowie (aka Duncan Jones). Angie & David split in 1980 - I knew they had split up, but didn't realise that he had been with her for a decade: surprising that they had been together since 1970.

But he was private in many ways. And very alternative. I liked that.

I remember the 1983 film that he was in, The Hunger, where he was so incredibly natural as an actor. I hadn't realised until that point that he had personas which he put on and took off to keep his privacy. Probably to keep his sanity too.

He was a complex character who did not live his life in the public eye: he wasn't a soul-baring tell-all kind of person. What is also fascinating is that, where he did let down his guard in interviews, he seemed to regret it. 

I didn't know - don't keep up with entertainment news - that he had married a Somali-American model, Iman, in 1992, or that in 2000 they had a daughter, Alexandria "Lexi" Jones. So he leaves Lexi and Zowie. And he and Iman were together for twenty three years: pretty good going for a rock star.

And who knew that the words of Heroes were so simple.


Sam

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