Monday, January 11, 2016

One girl's Bowie.

In 1983 I thought David Bowie was Elton John.  Modern Love had just hit the airwaves with its pop-happy sound.  I glommed onto its vibe as something dancy and fun and cluelessly mistook his voice for the Rocket Man's. At 15, I wasn't familiar enough with Bowie's work to make the distinction.  I do know that I couldn't remember hearing Bowie singing happily.  It wasn't until two years later, when the lyrics of Changes appeared at the end of The Breakfast Club that I thought to learn more about him.  And in '85 you couldn't just do a YouTube search and mainline every video he'd made, like I've done today.  By the time Absolute Beginners, with all its kitsch, schmarm and ridiculousness, was released in 1986 - he had cemented himself into my still-evolving psyche - a British rock idol, chewing the scenery with a delicious American accent - my teenaged heart fluttered wildly.

Last week I saw a meme.  A grown up Jennifer Connelly standing with the Goblin King behind her, his hand resting upon her slim neck.  Return of the Goblin King - visual wishful thinking for the Generation Xers.   I did a quick search, hoping against hope that it wasn't a hoax, only to find myself disappointed.

Bowie's extensive personae provided enough visual stimuli to give people a smorgasbord of fashion and musical style.

From decade to decade, sometimes from year to year - he redefined his sound and his look: glam rock, plastic soul, rock & roll, industrial, experimental.  I didn't realize he had actual pipes until he did a cover of Nature Boy for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack - I had to look that up too.  Who was this man with power and vibrato killing the tune? The Bowie I knew spat words out - rapid fire -  held no notes, spoke/sung his way through songs.

I don't know another actor/singer who has imprinted so completely upon me.  I can as easily picture him as Ziggy Stardust singing The Jean Jeanie,

as I can visualize him 'dancing' with La La La Human Steps, 

or morphing into Tesla in The Prestige.

I shall miss the Thin White Duke terribly.  I was waiting for my teenage daughter to appreciate him on her own -  that process will now be jump-started.  A crash course in Bowie - she can pick and choose which persona to love most - if I know my kid, 80s Bowie will be her in, but 70s Bowie is going to steal her soul.

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