Listening to Mark Radcliffe's special show this morning on BBC Six Music, Celebrating David Bowie, with guest Gail Ann Dorsey, I was struck by how much Bowie meant to me personally.
Like many I guess, I appreciate both his incredible music and also that as an artist, he remained faithful to his muse. Though, as he mentions in an interview on Radcliffe, he felt unhappily 'commercial' for two albums after 'Let's Dance'.
Pretty much my first awareness of 'pop' music was during a church event at the Royal Agricultural Centre, Islington where the DJ happened to play Space Oddity amongst the pop songs.. I spent the rest of the expo time making myself unpopular by pestering him to play it again, and again. There was something about it that both fascinated and delighted me.
Soon after, a friend lent me a mono cassette player and a stack of Bowie cassettes. I spent ages listening to and absorbing the wonderful variety of:
- David Bowie
- The Man Who Sold the World
- Hunky Dory
- The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
- Aladdin Sane
- Diamond Dogs
- Young Americans
Somehow, I then missed out on the incredible Eno collaboration LPs of Station to Station, Low and Heroes. Except, I did buy Breaking Glass EP in '78 and it was the first thing I listened to on my home made headphone amplifier and a Dual 505 deck. The Heroes title track was getting a lot of airplay on whichever pirate station I listened and that really struck out as something unique and deeply fascinating.
Then again, for many years, Bowie was in the background for my music interests with just the odd single from Scary Monsters and Let's Dance reaching my awareness via Top of the Pops.
In the late 90's a friend lent me what he described as Bowies's "Drum and Bass Record" and again I was bowled over by the originality, musicality and shear muscle of Earthling.
There then followed another Bowie drought in my life until the poignant Blackstar, a record I now really love as a perfect final statement. "Look at me, I'm in heaven".
Since I started play bass I've become interested in Trevor Bolder's work with David and also somewhat suspicious of his impressive "Mutton Chops" sideburns in the Ziggy years. I also really enjoy Gale's bass playing including when she so often often gets a great sound out of her MusicMan Stingray on the excellent sounding live album A Reality Tour.
So, for me like many, Bowie is an unique and inspiring artist who constantly re-invented himself leading to a huge variety of incredible music. He stands out as someone who followed his artistic muse rather than chasing commercial success, yet produced a stream of popular 'hits'. I've gained much pleasure listening to his work and still have more to explore.
I've no doubt I have Bowie to thank for my eclectic music tastes that largely avoid commercial 'pop' offerings. I need something interesting for my ears to pick up. And Bowie provided that in bucket-loads.
David Bowie really was, and is, "the gov'ner".