Monday, January 11, 2016

Something Happened on the Day He Died

David Bowie had a huge impact on rock and pop music. I'm always sad when any real musical talent passes away, and I use the term 'idol' very sparingly, but to me Bowie was one of those artists who earned the right to be an inspiration to many, and I'm definitely feeling the loss. Whether or not it shows in my music, he was an inspiration to me.

I'm pretty sure the first chords I really learned to play on guitar, when I was still a teenager, were the C major and E minor that open "Space Oddity." As a young man, I used to get occasional comparisons to the young David Bowie, and for Halloween in 1992, I shaved my eyebrows (again - but that's another story) and made my own jumpsuit and dressed as Ziggy Stardust.

I played it left hand...

Some of my friends called me Ziggy for a while after that. My first Yahoo! E-mail account was ziggysdust. In '97, I started working on an ambitious cover of "Heroes," which I eventually shelved because the computer hardware and software I had at the time wasn't able to handle 6+ minutes and 10+ tracks; I did end up covering "Rebel Rebel" some months later, and while it's hardly my best work and the drums still sound like they were borrowed from the Human League, I'm kinda proud of it.

When Bowie announced he was starting his own ISP, BowieNet, in 1998, I eagerly prepared to switch Internet providers. It was pretty awesome to be for a few years! Anyway, I'm not claiming to be the world's biggest David Bowie fan. I never got to see the man in concert, and I don't have every album (though I do have seven on vinyl, and eleven on CD). I actually just bought  today, and I imagine many others have or will, too, in a fitting tribute. It's another incredible album, and if you haven't seen the video for "Lazarus" yet, well... here.

What I admire most about Bowie is changes. Yes, the song is great, too, but I mean the fact that he constantly reinvented himself, and wasn't afraid to completely alter his look and his sound and risk alienating his fans. "Space Oddity" and "Changes" and "Suffragette City" and "The Jean Genie" and "Diamond Dogs" and "Young Americans" and "Heroes" and "Fashion" and "Let's Dance" and "Blue Jean" and "Jump They Say" and "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" and "I'm Afraid of Americans" and "Slow Burn" and "Sunday" and "Reality" and "Dancing Out in Space" and, yes, "Lazarus" and so many more are all amazing works of music... and that they were all created by the same musician makes them all the more amazing. The man had conviction.

If you want to hear six seconds of that abandoned "Heroes" attempt, I've got it posted on my Vine account:

I'd like to think that I've picked up a little of that willingness to experiment musically. I'm focusing on finishing I'll Live, my own album of original music, of course, and I don't really spend time on covering others' songs these days, but I was inspired to finally play around with the Acapella app this morning and record this 30-second video of the beginning of "A Better Future," from Heathens. Not one of his better known songs or albums, but I'd rank both as among my favorites, and the time just happened to run out after I sang "Please make sure we get tomorrow..."