David Bowie, Where Art Thou? [Originally posted in 2006 -- ten years ago!]
David Bowie (1/8/1947-) is one cool dude. I've been lucky enough to have seen him in various venues over the years, but the last time was by far the best -- at the relatively small Detroit State Theater on September 21, 1997. He was in perfect pitch and riding the catchy Earthling album with its techno overtones ("I'm Afraid of Americans" is hilariously cool). He spryly moved around the stage, sometimes barefoot, seeming both very earthly and very much a Cosmonaut at the same time.
What's especially heartening about Bowie is that, yes, he can do the "I'm a millionaire pop star" thing as well as anyone, but he's chosen -- much like Prince -- to stick to his own guns over the long march. He remains true to form, and very much in touch with technology and its cross-genre artistic possibilities. I adore his music and like many of his movie appearances (must see again The Man Who Fell to Earth for one trippy example, an ultimately sad 1976 tale of a fallen alien stuck on Earth while his home planet slowly dies), but have my favorites.
It's hard to beat the dazzling concept album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972), which was so at odds with the waning hippy ideals of the time, so perfectly attuned to undercurrents of global social changes and the explosion of punk and New Wave on the horizon. Then there's the electric shocker Aladdin Sane (1973), featuring "Panic in Detroit" and a sonic romp through the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together," among other treats. Ramble on through the eerie Diamond Dogs (1974) to the groovy plastic pop of Young Americans (1975), the lyrical and occasionally overarching Station to Station (1976), and the revolutionary "Berlin trilogy," Low (1977), "Heroes" (1977), and Lodger (1979). Bowie had already done some fine work with Lou Reed and Iggy Pop to everyone's benefit, as well. Next, there's another wild and sometimes campy romp via Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), followed by another bid for mainstream pop stardom in Let's Dance (1983). Throw in always entertaining and sometimes bizarre videos, and presto, this period would have been enough successful output for any "normal" artist's entire career.
Bowie continued, though he slowed down the pace a bit. Here's where he and Prince again moved on parallel lines, though Bowie never took the drastic step of calling himself "The Artist Formerly Known as David Bowie."
During his Reality Tour in 2004, he suffered chest pains and underwent a sudden angioplasty, and has been understandably taking it relatively easy since then. Based in New York City, he continues working; his recent comings and goings can be found on his buzzing website, complete with alien-tinged motifs, at: www.davidbowie.com Check out the BowieNet for a little adventure in cyberworld.
Viva David Bowie! May the man who shares Elvis' birthday rise again.
[RIP David Bowie, 1947-2016]