domingo, fevereiro 19, 2017

Shape-shifting Music: "Blackstar" by David Bowie, "Bowie 70" by David Fonseca



After more than a year, I'm finally able to write about this. I've also just listened to his latest album for the first time, or shall I call it a work of art, for it surely is; 'ladies and gentlemen', "Blackstar". An eclectic heady mix of Bowie, passing through the ages, a collage of art, music and sound, all for your delectation.

In the early 1980's during school holidays, I used to go to a classical music record shop in Rossio in Lisbon. I was able to get a discount on any records I ordered (they didn't mind if I ordered pop records), and frequently utilized this discount by purchasing for my friends. One day, one of them asked me to order a single called 'Starman' by David Bowie. I had never heard of him before this, but found the song to be wonderful and different to anything I'd heard up to then. I can't say that Bowie ever became my top favourite artist, but in the following two years got to know his music extremely well. Another friend of mine invited a group of us to his home on a regular basis, and we used to smoke hash and play table football. The only music played on the turntable was Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, and Diamond Dogs - over and over again.
Bowie's career has been unique and right for the time, but there doesn't seem to be anyone else today who will come anywhere near filling the space he has left. In today's world it doesn't seem as though his kind of creativity can be repeated.

Well, he grew on me, becoming a revelation and the unwrapping of an enigma. Bowie is a celebration of the times and a reminder that our Millenium is in itself a memorial of the amazing development of music and art from the last Century. The Hindu Gurus say that this age is about the dissolution of our material plane into a spiritual existence, a time of reflection after the transmutation Bowies age represents. All we have is Pulp POP.

David Bowie was the shape-shifting, avant-garde recording and performing artiste who orchestrated and dominated guitar-laden rock of the 1970s, much as the Beatles had done the previous decade. He will be remembered for a lot of things - sexual androgyny, fashion, acting, writing and singing often brilliant songs, producing frequently groundbreaking albums - but it is his penchant for musical experimentation and innovation, for sonic and instrumental improvisations - that constant reaching after artistic perfection - that may come to be seen as his legacy, his lasting contribution to music within and beyond Britain.

Two other British voices of the 1970s, Nick Drake and Kate Bush, share/shared with Bowie a palpable sense of the atmospheric, the ethereal, the otherworldly, but in ways both tonally and temperamentally dissimilar to one another. Yet they are/were all distinctive in their individual ways.

From 1969, when he released "Space Oddity", to his death from cancer a mere couple of days after marking his 69th birthday, on 8 January 2016, with the release of his 25th (studio) and, poignantly, final album "Blackstar", Bowie constantly invented and re-invented himself and his music. However, it is for the extraordinary work he produced throughout the 1970s, during which he made album after brilliant album, each a distinctive achievement in its own right, that he would ultimately come to be remembered. Nevertheless, for all his cheerful indulgence in colour and choreography, mime and the theatrical, Bowie wasn't altogether addicted to art-for-art's-sake. In fact, he wrote some of the most profoundly heartbreaking lyrics of the modern age, dealing with such subjects like death, mortality, mystery, anxiety, alienation, transformation....
Could it not be claimed that David Bowie was as much an icon/iconoclast of the counterculture, especially during the 1970s, as Bob Dylan had been from the 1960s onward, even if they traveled radically different paths in their quest for lyrical and musical adventure? Do any other musicians compare with Dylan and Bowie in terms of real sui generis singularity?

My greatest compliment to someone is to wish to them that their road be true. I know what it’s like when your road is not that and it requires a lot of alcohol. And so if Bowie, by being a standard bearer for the outsider by just being himself helped people to feel more comfortable about being themselves then he brought them love, happiness and peace. He was on their side. With his passing, that person, that supporter has gone because he had that rare gift of making it feel as if he was talking to you, just you. It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t as present in the world in recent years as he once was, he was there, and that was good, that’s all we needed. Now he isn’t and such was his involvement in my life that I'm now stunned because I've lost someone that was in some way part of “our” tribe, even if your tribe was a tribe of 2, just David and me.

He was a reference point in life, a way-point by which we navigated the sometime stormy seas. To many he was the North Star, which has now died to become what David knew he would become, a “Blackstar“.

And we’re all a little lost, ironically the world seems weirder without him. It is a reminder of course that things continually change, and of course he knew that and even wrote some lyrics about it. I have had “Changes” running around in my head all week. I find myself talking to him saying, “Thanks for the song and I know we can be philosophical about it David but seriously man, just look it!” Now we have to re-orientate and that’s not always easy. Suddenly without that anchor the world seems even more fucked up than it did before, and he’s not there anymore

And that is why is feels this way, it’s not sadness I’m feeling, it’s loneliness.

NB: Last Friday, 17/02, came out the Bowie cover album by David Fonseca. Of all the tracks on the album the one closest to my heart is the one by Rita Redshoes ("Heroes"). Bowie would have been proud. The whole album is on repeat since last Friday, but this particular track...Oh my!



2 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

I'd like to be able to say something half-way intelligent, but last time I commented on a "dead musician" post I ended alienating the poster :-)

Manuel Antão disse...

Feel free to comment anything you like. I've got thick skin... If I don't agree, I'll say it. Plain and simple. Thanks for commenting.