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Dept. of Passages

Waiting for the Gift of Sound and Vision

David Bowie's death was the first news story I saw when I awoke this morning. And, like millions around the world, my first thought was "No, he can't be dead - he's David Bowie!"

Of course, he could be dead, and he is, and there's a very big hole in our world.

There's also a little ragged hole in my own heart. Not because I grew up with his songs; I didn't - he came to North American attention after I graduated high school, and left university. I was peripherally aware of him as a young adult, but my first "Wow!" reaction about Bowie came when I watched "The Man Who Fell To Earth," rather than through listening to his music.

That changed when I came to Chicago, after Bob opened so many musical doors for me. I finally got to listen to "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars"; I learned that you really need to turn up "Suffragette City" to 11 to get the full impact; I bopped to the funk of "Young Americans"; I was continually impressed by his persona changes, his refusal early on to adhere to gender expectations, his journey through different music styles, his blending of art, fashion, and music.

When Bob and I were making a run at rock and roll stardom with our bassist Dr. Gonzo, we did a weird (but it worked musically and, oddly, thematically, I think) little medley of "Heroes" with the Beach Boys' "Do It Again." I had to learn the lyrics to Heroes, which led to listening to the entirety of both Low and Heroes.

And that's when Bowie got into my psyche.

I'm a lyrics person. I'm also pretty linear, which meant that sometimes, Bowie's very non-linear lyrics left me off-kilter and, yes, very occasionally unimpressed. But when I heard "Heroes," when I heard "Sound and Vision" that all changed. In my eyes those two songs revealed glimpses of an extraordinarily opaque artist. Those glimpses left me incredibly impressed.

As much as I loved "Heroes" - and listening to it this morning brought tears to my eyes - it really was "Sound and Vision" that made me into a Bowie fan.

The austere but gorgeous Zen acceptance of "I will sit right down, waiting for the gift of sound and vision" told me so much about Bowie, about his love of music, his love of observation, his love of the world, his growth as a human. It made me want to be a better human myself, although it's hard to connect the dots between the words and my reaction to them (a little like Bowie's lyrics, perhaps.) I wish we could all sit down and wait for that gift - and appreciate it when it's granted, because sound and vision help connect us with the world.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Bowie.

Here's "Sound and Vision."

Here's "Heroes": This is a live version of Heroes because, damn, he looked so happy to be singing it, and damn, he did such a good job on it.

And here's his last release, "Lazarus" - the video and music go together so well, and seem to anticipate his death; it's marvelous, and chilling.

This entry was originally posted at http://kaffyr.dreamwidth.org/393786.html?mode=reply, where there are currently comment count unavailable comments. You can comment there or here; I watch both.



( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 12th, 2016 12:13 am (UTC)
I heard in the wee hours and had to stay up until the early news confirmed it, because I just couldn't believe the internet's word on it. Been wandering about in a very muddled state all day, but I didn't actually lose it until I saw a clip of a crowd singing "Starman" -- now I'm pretty well wrecked. So much for my plans for the next couple of days...
Jan. 12th, 2016 03:57 am (UTC)
The hold he had on multiple generations was built of his art, his personas, his talent, his weirdness, his impeccable taste, and his music, always the music. You're not alone in being devastated (although that rarely helps much to know, I know.)
Jan. 12th, 2016 12:35 am (UTC)
I was pretty shocked. Our local independent radio station had just done a birthday tribute and celebration of his new album on Friday. I never followed him as a rabid fan but of course I knew enough of his music and enough about him even just the really popular stuff to realize what an amazing talent and artist he was. On the radio they were commenting that this album and the Lazarus song was basically Bowie's farewell, making his own death into a work of art.
Jan. 12th, 2016 03:59 am (UTC)
Yeah, when I watched the Lazarus video I was reminded very much of Warren Zevon; they both wanted to take as much control of an essentially uncontrollable event as they could - and, probably a bit to the surprise of both god and the devil, succeeded to some extent.
Jan. 12th, 2016 12:39 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for sharing this. A big piece of my life is gone. I was 16 when I got into him, but I think no matter what piece of his work was your gateway, Bowie stayed with you forever. It's been a very tough day, not much accomplished. Going to go swimming now and work off some of the funk.

Big hugs.
Jan. 12th, 2016 04:00 am (UTC)
I hope the swimming helped. I know some people think it's weird to be so affected by the death of someone one hasn't known personally ... but in an artistic sense, everyone who was affected by his death did know him very personally.
Jan. 12th, 2016 08:10 pm (UTC)

And the swimming did help, thank you. : )
Jan. 12th, 2016 12:57 am (UTC)

I too found myself in disbelief and confusion.

Jan. 12th, 2016 04:02 am (UTC)
I think it's exacerbated by his birthday, and the release of a well-received album, only two days before. I actually thought, on his birthday, "Hurrah! He's made it to almost 70, and he's still vital!" So it was an extra big shock.
Jan. 12th, 2016 02:06 pm (UTC)
I was stunned, then sad - then glad I was able to be in even a quarter of the time-frame he was in. Whether you are inspired by his music, his acting, his style, his revolutionary view of the world (and optimistic excitement over it all), or his ever-changing, yet BOWIE life - he is a man who will be sorely missed. I feel lucky to have been privy to his inspiration, in whatever form it may be - and thrilled that we all (in some small way, as a world) inspired HIM as well.

Jan. 14th, 2016 02:32 am (UTC)
I really like what you've written here (sorry that I took so long to respond; between posting and today I got overworked and sick, and am still recovering.) It's amazing how much he changed things, and I think he probably spent the last 20 years (the fairly quiet ones that gave him the chance to be with his family) being surprised at that himself. And yes, you're right, this world inspired him, it's pretty apparent.

Hugs back to you, my dear.
Jan. 12th, 2016 03:16 pm (UTC)
It's very odd because I pulled his best of out and was playing it all last week.
Jan. 14th, 2016 02:33 am (UTC)
I'm glad you were able to immerse yourself in his music while he was alive - the world sometimes provides us those chances, doesn't it?
Jan. 14th, 2016 04:35 pm (UTC)
Yes and I didn't need to go on youtube or anything because I could run the songs through my brain.
Jan. 16th, 2016 06:28 pm (UTC)
I understand completely. "Sound and Vision" was my non-stop mental background music for almost three days.
Jan. 14th, 2016 02:17 am (UTC)
Thank you for this.
Jan. 14th, 2016 02:42 am (UTC)
I'm glad it spoke to you. I'm never sure, but I needed to say it.
Jan. 16th, 2016 08:10 pm (UTC)
Jan. 16th, 2016 08:23 pm (UTC)
Thank you, my dear.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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