On the death of our musicians
David Bowie Blackstar
I would have liked Aladdin Sane, if not for the peer pressure at the cafeteria of Munich American High. Fellow students would repeat the song text or they had spaghetti and tomato sauce all over them. Harry Stolov and his fellows claimed control over the school.
I would have liked Harry and his gang —a can of coke hit the back of my head the next day to remind me. Earlier, I neglected to join the high-brows in their smoker’s barrack at Gymnasium Starnberg.
David Bowie just had to wait until I had a crush on the girl of who proved to become a most reliable lifetime friend. The Rise & Fall Of Ziggy Stardust stayed with us for more than a decade. What also stayed with me, was a growing regret, for letting the art taste of my socialist friends grow on me.
Other than for Young Americans, Bowie was never the chameleon the media had named him
With crossing the atlantic, he had to try something new. With first-rate sessionmen, Bowie comes up with a set of songs that approximate the sound of Philly soul and disco for Young Americans. Full-blown-blue-eyed soul that came as a shock.
Audience and media had something worth sharing and for lack of unique definition, the myth of change, metamorphosis, and that of the chameleon spread.
The Beatles had long demonstrated change of significance: transformation with their release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and every other release —most noticeably Let It Be and the White Album. They continuously created new meaning to their Beatles brand. Fab Four democratised Popmusik and showed the world that everyone can make music, as someone reminded us at Lemmy Kilmister’s funeral.
Lemmy’s funeral was live-streamed on YouTube and indicated significant change.
That of bringing death1 back to were it belongs. In our midst. Supernormal. Socio-political best practice of general social relevance.
David Bowie was one, who like no other hurried to keep up with trends, tendencies he chummed up to. Something you can’t say of Lemmy Eilmister, the frontman of Motörhead. He never had to dress up for a performance.
Bowie didn’t transform, he changed clothes before performing. No change from Outside on to Blackstar. He chummed up to Mick Jagger in a Video and Steve Strange from Visage in another, he even chummed up to his nearing death in video dramas for Blackstar.
Bowie teached virtuosity, stage setting, drama, complexity. There was great beauty in early, beats driven by hand-clap-rythmns, his beautiful voice on Outside and Blackstar. Most enduring and perhaps most useful are the remakes on PinUps such as Friday on my mind by the Easybeats. All the young dudes.
Wham bam thank you Mam.
At the center of it all
Trials and tribulations to suit feuilleton and audience, themselves chumming up to tendencies and falling for the stimulation of novelty. To match this, conspiracy theories are circulated about planet X and the moons of Nibiru.
Find an elegant condolence by Sara Benincasa on Medium. It portraits Bowie more fitting as the parton saint of the freaks, the fags, the dykes, the queers, the weirdos of all stripes, and that most dangerous creature of all: the artist. Not to forget the CNN anchor women.
When reporting of Bowie’s death, two of them let their audience know, that they were accompanied by Bowie through the phases of their lives —even though none of them had orange hair or was a strawberry blonde.
- Petra Hammerstein: “People used to die at home, death was amongst us and came natural.” ↩