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A Music Blog (#38: Oh no! Don't say it's true...)

Posted January 11th, 2016 at 5:58 AM by bobandbill
Updated January 11th, 2016 at 1:39 PM by bobandbill

Well. I sometimes felt that I should revive this blog, but you can see I was too lazy/busy/both for that given the lack of updates the last couple years.

But the sad passing of David Bowie is a powerful enough exception, I think.


I'm far from the biggest fan of him (and we all know who that is on PC), but I've certainly enjoyed a lot of his music. And he was still making it, and good stuff as well!

So let's have some music education with some random videos and thoughts. Share your favourites too. Seems the best way to pay ones respects to him, imo.

Space Oddity

I think this was his first hit song. It's powerful stuff, and very strong structurally imo. Quiet beginning leading to the build up in the countdown, and the tone afterwards has that tone that a lot of his better songs had imo. It tells a neat story of the standard astronaut Major Tom, which strikes me as something that would have had bonus relevance when it was released - the same month as the moon landing.

And the latter half has those powerful moments. First with "Tell my wife I love her so/She knooowws", and then...

Ground control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong
Can you hear me Major Tom
Can you hear me Major Tom
Can you hear me Major Tom
Can you/
HEEEEEAAAR, And I'm floating 'round my tin can, far above the world
Planet Earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do...


The execution is amazing imo of that part.

Ashes to Ashes

It's hard to mention Space Oddity without its sequel to Major Tom (or rather, one of them). He gets referenced here, or rather re-interpreted a "guy that's been in such an early song".

It's also a key song because of it's one of the wacky guises David Bowie has put on, like Ziggy Stardust (as you also may have heard in some songs). Or rather, I should say guises that the character David Bowie put on - his real name was David Robert Jones. While a lot of his songs aren't outrageous when you get past the different directions or the experimental hits-and-misses (possibly exemplified by the lyric here "I've never done good things/I've never done bad things/I've never done anything out of the blue"), what he did do often was go all out with his appearance and music videos.

Starman

This isn't my favourite Bowie song musically by a long shot (but I still like it). But gosh, this has some nostalgia for me. I remember it quite vividly being on the radio as a kid, but then somehow never heard it again for years. Then one night in the car I heard it again, and cue a lot of memories when I realised 'I heard this song before, surely-ooooooh.'.

Drive-In Saturday

Another song that may not be highly acclaimed but one I really quite like. Enjoy this live version of a strange future where people need to relearn something important. :V

Life on Mars

Absolute classic. Enough said.

Modern Love

Not as inventive as his better songs imo, and it does repeat itself, but it has a nice upbeatness in its sound and pace. Nice sax in the middle.

Also another memory-inducing song for me. Driving with a bunch of friends and this came up, and we sung it all the way. It's a very sing-along song.

Warszwa

A very different song to the previous.

Understandable if it's not to one's taste, first or fifth listening, but it's testament to some of his creativity imo. A strange, experimental, mostly-instrumental piece.

Why is it one of my favourites? Well, I'm of Polish descent, and Poland didn't far very well in WWII... or afterwards either, coming under Russian occupation for some decades. And this melancholy song does capture what I understand times were like back then, even though it is ridiculously hard for me to really comprehend it all. Completely different world...

Under Pressure

So good it got plagiarised. :V Plus it's a collab with him dancing and singing with Queen. Who had Freddie Mercury. Two kings of vocals together really is a joy.

Let's Dance

Australian setting! I think the message here isn't terribly hard to follow.

TREMBLE LIKE A FLOWERRRRRR

Blackstar

I have to end it on a recent song (check out his last two albums though!). In reflection, I HAD to pick this song. This is the album title track of Blackstar, the album released a couple days ago. That's right - just before his death. On his 69th birthday to boot. And the man even put the whole darn album online for free on said release. (So for those who insist his death is a hoax, what does he really stand to profit from?)

As for the song? Gosh, it is weird. The video is maybe weirder. [Why yes, that is a woman with a tail, and a death ritual, a blindfolded Bowie, shaking people without shirts, and gyrating scarecrows.] When I first heard it I felt it had some of Warszwa in it. And then it faded out into the middle segment, and it was glorious, really reminiscent of other songs in its tone. The song is worth it just for that bit. It's still not perfect - I feel the repetition of "I'm a blackstar" and variants could have been reduced in number. (Maybe a result of shortening the song because itunes supposedly doesn't allow 10 min + tracks?). But I still love it. And he looks so darn happy.

This song may not seem to be a fitting last song to pick given another track from Blackstar (Lazarus) and how that music video starts. But dang, I suggest otherwise. There's something I realised is so darn fitting in its sad, bittersweet way. See, I started this rambling reflection and tribute with Space Oddity, which told of the astronaut Major Tom, and his first hit as a musician.

And in the start of this video we see a dead astronaut's complete with spacesuit. Followed by a ritual following his death in true Bowie weirdness.

While he sings:

Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside...
Someone else took his place and bravely cried...\
I'm a blackstar, I'm a blackstar...


His own character has now died, and he's assumed that character. He calls himself a blackstar ("Not a whitestar"). Self-referential, surely. The way the song ends as well is quite fitting for an end (arguably his whole album seems to be a send-off for himself if you dig into it with this hindsight). And muk, he had cancer for 18 months. He knew he wouldn't last long, I bet. But who else would replace him, "take his place" after he has "stepped aside"?

Well... us. And of course it's us, he's the guy who influenced generations ("We can be heroes, just for one day"). Looking at the tributes to him, you can't deny he was influential.


What a sendoff imo. RIP, Bowie.
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Comments

  1. Old Comment
    Hikamaru's Avatar
    I have to admit, Ben will be proud of you and this blog entry. Quoting some of the lyrics really shows how influential he was to the generations of music that followed. And a lot of those artists were among those who left their tributes to him, because he was a true legend.
    Posted January 11th, 2016 at 6:33 AM by Hikamaru Hikamaru is online now
  2. Old Comment
    MiracleGhost47's Avatar
    I never heard of the guy before I saw this. Maybe I should stop living in a cave...
    Posted January 11th, 2016 at 6:48 AM by MiracleGhost47 MiracleGhost47 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    Fairy's Avatar
    Very good tribute post. This is a nice send off. Exactly what I needed to read. <3
    Posted January 11th, 2016 at 8:18 AM by Fairy Fairy is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Omicron's Avatar
    Lazarus has a completely new meaning after this, beautiful song.

    This was a great entry, bobandbill. Great songs. RIP Bowie.
    Posted January 11th, 2016 at 11:57 AM by Omicron Omicron is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Achromatic's Avatar
    Wonderful blog, Marcin. I really enjoy that you added some more obscure songs in here too.
    Posted January 11th, 2016 at 5:03 PM by Achromatic Achromatic is offline
  6. Old Comment
    Bay Alexison's Avatar
    Like the others said, a very nice tribute post there. I enjoyed many of Bowie's songs and it's no wonder many people were influenced by him.
    Posted January 11th, 2016 at 6:11 PM by Bay Alexison Bay Alexison is online now
  7. Old Comment
    bobandbill's Avatar
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hikamaru View Comment
    I have to admit, Ben will be proud of you and this blog entry. Quoting some of the lyrics really shows how influential he was to the generations of music that followed. And a lot of those artists were among those who left their tributes to him, because he was a true legend.
    You don't have to admit that, but thanks. =p And indeed he was.
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MiracleGhost47 View Comment
    I never heard of the guy before I saw this. Maybe I should stop living in a cave...
    Well... at least someone learnt something from this, so that's something. :V
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kirby View Comment
    Very good tribute post. This is a nice send off. Exactly what I needed to read. <3
    Cheers, Kirby!
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Omicron View Comment
    Lazarus has a completely new meaning after this, beautiful song.

    This was a great entry, bobandbill. Great songs. RIP Bowie.
    Indeed it does. A lot of the songs on his last album do, in fact. Glad he got it released and saw some reaction to it before he passed.
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Achromatic View Comment
    Wonderful blog, Marcin. I really enjoy that you added some more obscure songs in here too.
    Yay, Ben gave thumbs up! Glad you enjoyed my picks.
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bay Alexison View Comment
    Like the others said, a very nice tribute post there. I enjoyed many of Bowie's songs and it's no wonder many people were influenced by him.
    Thanks, Bay. Hopefully I'm not inspired to more tribute posts for a while though...
    Posted January 13th, 2016 at 3:20 AM by bobandbill bobandbill is online now
  8. Old Comment
    floating_lettuce's Avatar
    I've never been big Bowie, but I've heard some of his songs and this post led me to a lot more. Great blog! RIP
    Posted January 14th, 2016 at 6:47 PM by floating_lettuce floating_lettuce is offline
 

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