Sunday, January 10, 2021

David Bowie: Five Years

It's been five years since Bowie passed away. I had never considered that there wouldn't be a year without him, when I wouldn't have the joy of wondering if he'd release any music, and if it would be any good.

For my ninth birthday, Bowie broadcast this version of "Five Years" on Old Grey Whistle Test. I don't think he knew it was my birthday, but the coincidence remains.

A double coincidence, since this was the first song that made me sit up and take notice of what the hell he was doing. I was maybe 13 and sitting in a chair having my hair cut. This was back when people would actually play records in a shop, to help the ambiance. For some reason my dad took me to absolutely the hippest hairdresser's in the entire city. This seemed most out of character for him. (But I realised later, not.)

My hair was being cut by some suave dude who had trained in London. The big London, the one across the water in England. Where good music came from.

The moment the song started there was something very strange about it. I understand now that Bowie was speaking a different language, for the oppressed, the outsiders, the gender neutral and gender benders. It was done with a strange irony (enhanced in this performance) and theatricality that somehow made it even more honest.

That was his special trick. The Bowie facade was there to remind us that the world as it was presented to us was also facade. That we needed to dig a little deeper to discover the commonality we share. That David Bowie could be a somebody person and yet David Jones could remain untouched, a nobody person.

There will never be another.

David Bowie, 8 January 1947 - 10 January 2016. RIP.

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