As sad as I was to hear of the death of David Bowie; it is quite lovely to think that as I sit here alone in my lounge listening to him, across the world thousands of people are doing exactly the same.
Record players have been dragged out of lofts, dusty vinyl cleaned up using one of those funky velvety record cleaners, cassettes have been released from their brittle parcel taped shoe box tombs, and long undisturbed bootlegged mp3 files are seeing the light of day. Collectively and individually we are reacquainting ourselves with an immortal who has always been a part of our lives, a part of the soundtrack to our lives, and sadly it seems he was only human after all.
He’s made a lot of music, so I am cherry-picking, carefully stepping around ‘Dancing in the Street’, but flying back and forth between the decades, it is a trip of great nostalgia and re-discovery. Just listening to the first few lines of ‘Modern Love‘, and my stomach lurches through the thought of school discos, as I’m transported back to the 80’s. ‘Now thats what I call music’ track 1, tape 2, side 2 (Frankie’s ‘Relax’ was track 1 on the other side). This song is the 80’s.
My particular favourite ‘Golden Years‘ (released the year I was born) is one of the few songs that make me want to move about in a rhythmical way, I have just done so, I feel a bit better, I’ve done my best Heath Ledger.
But despite all of his amazing physical incarnations and musical manifestations, the song that I’ll always remember David Bowie for, is the first song I ever heard him singing.
Having fallen in love with Queen in 1980, I had to blooming wait a whole year for them to release their next single after ‘FLASH!’, so by the time ‘Under Pressure’ came about I was ready to explode, and I was pretty pissed off when it turned out to be a duet with this other fellow who wasn’t even in the band. It didn’t take long for me to realise (even at the age of six years old) that this was perhaps the greatest sound I had ever heard. I could barely comprehend how incredible it was, how wonderful they sounded together, and how haunting they were together. The combination of Mercury and Bowie is sublime, and about as good as it gets, (sorry Mick.) To me it was a song all about helplessness, just at the time I didn’t really understand that much about what helplessness was all about, (and of course the baseline went on to take a life of its own). In the year 2016 the lyrics seem as relevant now as they did back in the dark days of 1981, and all the more sad now that they are both gone. It is beautiful.
If you are listening to a bit of Bowie tonight, save a bit of time for ‘Under Pressure‘. It might bring a tear to your eye too.
‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves