Monday, January 11, 2016

366 Project - Day 11 - "David Bowie"

January 11, 2016 - "David Bowie"

During the first decade of my life I had listened to and sung along with David Bowie songs countless times. From songs like "Space Oddity" and "Fame" to "Let's Dance" and "China Girl", his voice was a very familiar one over the airwaves.

Like many (if not "most") people of my generation however, my first real exposure to the wonder that was David Bowie came in 1986 by way of his portrayal of Jareth, The Goblin King in the film "Labyrinth". I was just shy of my tenth birthday when that film was released... and - with his style and his ability to contact-juggle crystal balls - Jareth suddenly became the coolest person in the world to me.

It wasn't until high school that I truly entered the world of David Bowie. Somehow - and I don't even remember the circumstances under which it happened - I got my hands on a cassette of songs by Tin Machine in the very-early-90s. That got me exploring Bowie's music more and more.

When Bowie's album "Black Tie White Noise" came out in '93, I was fully hooked. Our local library got in a copy of the album very soon after its release... and I am the only person who ever got to "borrow" that particular copy. The due-date written for me at the very top of the freshly applied library sticker on the cover marked the very first time the album was checked out. It's "technically" still overdue... but thanks to a "Library Fees Amnesty Day" years late, my debt was forgiven.

I listened to that album over-and-over-and-over again. The whole intro sequence with the songs "The Wedding" and "You've Been Around" ... and David Bowie's saxophone parts just amazed me. The whole album amazed me... even though one of the songs was a Morrissey cover - David Bowie took it and made it awesome. Years later the opening and closing tracks of the album would be used as the opening and closing tracks at my wedding.

I began to re-visit Bowie's early works and fell in love with albums like "The Man Who Sold The World", which made it even more special to me when Nirvana did a cover of the title track from that album as part of their "MTV Unplugged" session.

I also absorbed Bowie's films - especially 1983's "The Hunger", which quickly became one of my favorite films at the time. It's still one of my favorite vampire-related films.

In 1995 Bowie release the album "Outside" - and that's when my love of his music became an obsession. I bought the album on CD - and listened to it so much that it got to the point where the disc was no longer playable due to scratches and wear, so I bought a second one. I think the copy I have now is actually my third copy... and - while I'm not claiming that it was his greatest album - it has remained MY personal favorite of his albums to this day. I'd spend hours upon hours listening to that album while painting, drawing, working, or just trying to get through some difficult and heavy moments in life. That album also sparked my interest in David Bowie's artwork as well... as he had painted the cover art.

One year following the release of "Outside", Bowie portrayed Andy Warhol in the Julian Schnabel film "Basquiat". Jean-Michel Basquiat was already one of my favorite artists - but I wasn't a big Warhol fan at all... until I watched an interview with David Bowie talking about Warhol and it gave me that little push I needed to actually learn more about him and see past a wall of Campbell's Soup Cans or a stack of Brillo boxes. The film's soundtrack was awesome too - and introduced me to John Cale's version of "Hallelujah" and sparked my interest in The Pogues, Tom Waits and, most importantly, Charlie Parker.

It has been 20 years now since "Basquiat" was released. Two decades. During those years Bowie would go on to release a half-dozen more studio albums, including "Blackstar" - which was released less than a week ago, on his 69th birthday.

Looking back at the first four decades of my life, it's hard to imagine any stage of it... any "act" or "scene"... without at least one David Bowie song contributing to the soundtrack.

... and for that, Mr. Bowie, I will forever be grateful.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful gift with the world!

"Time may change me... but I can't trace time." - David Bowie

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