Daivd Bowie is – the V & A, London
The star is losing its light, glimmering. This has been happening for a long time. But, ’Bowie’ is now fixed, mummified. Like a beautiful butterfly, a pharaoh in a case.
For myself, the toxic luxury of nostalgia is overwhelming. The self-reflection, the looking back, can be bitter.
However, after dipping into Bowie: Fame, Sound and Vision by Nick Stevenson, 2006 a sociological survey, I learn or rather have it articulated for me that Bowie’s appeal is to the creative aspects of all human beings. And the healthy thing to do is to move away from Bowie’s image; attend to ourselves after consuming the man and his art. His career was, (is) about self-improvement. And it is sweet to remember this.
Loads must have been published about David Bowie, critical/analytical and straightforward hagiographical, so I am contributing nothing new. This is a ‘vanity’ blog. My own experiences and little thoughts.
I wasn’t a fan from the ‘beginning’. Except for certain songs like ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Jean Genie’, ‘John I’m Only Dancing’ and ‘Rebel Rebel’, alot of the material passed me by. I liked the rockers because it was ‘hard rock’ that I was into. Only. Limited I know, but I was a kid with his identity as a rocker.
Bowie was part of my youth because as well as having family and freinds who adored him, he was in the charts and in the music press alot. Being the pop/rock fiend that I was it was kind of hard to ignore him.
Re the media – nothing changes? The way the mainstream media have sucked up his latest oeuvre like a sponge is kind of remarkable, though. Rock’n'roll is now firmly established, accepted and not at all dangerous. But back then it was the music press and the arts programmes on TV. The backwaters rather than the mainstream as it is now.
I must have been in my early 20s before I appreciated Bowie fully. It was the time of the ‘Berlin trio’ but the first album which I played and played was Diamond Dogs. Every track is brilliant. The whole thing hangs together. It’s not ‘greater than its parts’, it’s not a ‘concept’ album but it does seem that much more satisfying when listened to as a whole.
After that I came to love his more souly, funky songs such as ‘Fame’ ‘Young Americans’ ‘Golden Years’,'TVC15′ and the fantastic ’1984′ of course.
Of the Berlin trio, Low is my favourite, The Lodger my least favourite. And I like the experimental’Side 2′,as it was then, more than the uptempo’Side 1′.
I bypassed just about everything from after Let’s Dance up until Heathen. (This fact alone should surely exclude me from the true Bowie fanclub.)
From the here and now what I really appreciate about the man is his genuine creativity, his boldness and his ability to enlist others to help him achieve his vision, which to me shows a kind of generosity and spirit of co-operation.
Okay, I am sure there are loads of apocryphal stories about his underside : his mistreatment of others, his rock-star preciousness, ego etc., but for me his mixture of showbusiness committment to excellence, the simple desire to entertain, plus his evident interest in the esoteric, the difficult and weird, make him the most fascinating rock star ever.
OK, the autodidact and the amateur can produce rubbish – as can the pro – but, in the expressive, creative activities – painting, music, creative writing, film etc – we need to love what we do, surely. We need to be passionate, dedicated to our work, whether pro or amateur.
I am happy to be deemed ‘amateur’ if this means I am passionate about what I do. It doesn’t mean that I’ll produce sub-standard material, all of the time.
This is a raw issue for me at moment. Can’t you tell?