If you haven’t heard, David Bowie passed away yesterday from liver cancer. From The Hollywood Reporter obituary:
David Bowie, the genre- and gender-bending British music icon whose persistent innovations and personal reinventions transformed him into a larger-than-life rock star, died Sunday after a battle with cancer, his rep confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 69.
"David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18-month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief," read a statement posted on the artist's official social media accounts.
The influential singer-songwriter and producer excelled at glam rock, art rock, soul, hard rock, dance pop, punk and electronica during his eclectic 40-plus-year career. He just released his 25th album, Blackstar, Jan. 8, which was his birthday.
I’m sure there are lots of obits around where you can get the totality of his career. The BBC summarized his career here.
Bowie was born David Jones in January 1947 but reinvented himself as David Bowie, in 1966, in order to avoid confusion with the Monkees' Davy Jones.
He went on to study Buddhism and mime, and released his first album, the World of David Bowie, in 1967.
But it was the title track of his second album, Space Oddity, which aroused more than passing interest.
The atmospheric tale of an abandoned astronaut, Major Tom, orbiting the Earth, Space Oddity became a hit in 1969, the year of the first Moon landing.
Initially a hit throughout Europe, it took four years to "break" the United States.
My son Matthew loves “Space Oddity.” There’s something simple and folkloric about it. For me David Bowie’s music was either very good or very bad. He experimented with music in a way that suggested to me he didn’t understand music well or didn’t have what Hemingway called a “crap detector.” So when he tried something new it either was brilliant or terrible. That’s probably not true, but that’s my impression. I really thought his Let’s Dance album was very solid as an album. Not sure which of his songs were my favorite, but songs like “Young American” just captured something from the time and place, and of course my youth.
I’m just going to post a few of my favorite Bowie songs. I just love that hip sax in “Young Americans” and those wonderful lyrics.
“Rebel Rebel,” might be his greatest song. That was punk rock before punk rock existed.
Here’s some of the lyrics:
You've got your mother in a whirl
She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl
Hey babe, your hair's alright
Hey babe, let's go out tonight
You like me, and I like it all
We like dancing and we look divine
You love bands when they're playing hard
You want more and you want it fast
They put you down, they say I'm wrong
You tacky thing, you put them on
Read more: David Bowie - Rebel Rebel Lyrics | MetroLyrics
Finally I always loved “Let’s Dance.” It was so 1980s.
And if you say run, I'll run with you
And if you say hide, we'll hide
Because my love for you
Would break my heart in two
If you should fall
Into my arms
And tremble like a flower
Finally I heard that his wife posted this on Twitter when he died: “The struggle is real, but so is God.”
God rest his soul. He was an entertainer in the fullest sense.