The world mourns the passing of the extraordinary David Bowie; like Miles Davis, someone ceaselessly reinventing himself in order to ford a new direction.
The man, like the music, refused to recognise boundaries. Bowie was present at the European peremiere of Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians; the affair with Minimalism continued in the Low Symphony and Heroes, in which Bowie’s music is seen through the eyes of Philip Glass. As Glass himself observes in the interview below, Bowie’s music ‘went beyond the niceties and the categories of pop music.’ Glam-rock; ambient; the Berlin Period; pop; the stylistically-eclectic Black Tie, White Noise; the music refuses to behave, to fit neat categories.
A dedicated instigator, not follower, of fashion, Bowie has been called a ‘professional suit-wearer,’ attuned as he was to the power of the visual spectacle. Acting, composing, performing; Bowie’s career was lived like the opening of Let’s Dance, a in a state of continual lift-off, always moving forward, and ready to break out into something new. It’s impossible to hear that wild, visceral introduction and not be grabbed by its sense of lifting you up. The start of New Killer Star, the opening track on ‘Reality,’ feels like some long-limbed insect struggling awkwardly climbing into view before it launches into flamboyant, swaggering rock (flam-rock ?).
A true Everyman; in his different stage creations, his flamboyant outfits and swaggering musicianship, he spoke to you in a way that made you feel his music was addressing you, and you alone, that showed you that being different was something good, some thing of to be proud. The poet John Siddique put his finger on it earlier, writing on Twitter ‘Thank you for helping make room in this world for the strange arty kids.’
The RCA advert promoting Heroes carried Bowie’s own line, ‘Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.’ He certainly did that. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues, to mourn the death by celebrating the music.