[I wrote this Monday night]
As we age, it’s an ongoing battle not to become a nostalgia act—in the music we listen to, the books we read, the clothes we wear—especially when others our own age are entrenched in the past.
I see it on Facebook. In the people that I once knew, went to school with, and most of whom I likely haven’t seen face-to-face in 35 years. And yet, we somehow have some tenuous connection that Mark Zuckerberg is able to exploit?
Last week I was listening to KEXP, one of the stations I enjoy streaming, given the sad state of radio in my own region. I prefer to listen to music that was written and recorded in the last decade and stations like KEXP (from Seattle) play a mix of newer music, while recognizing some of the pioneers and icons of rock and their contribution to the history of the genre.
David Bowie would be one of the latter. In fact, KEXP highlighted Bowie, celebrating his birthday last Friday, with what they were calling “Intergalactic David Bowie Day,” playing a shitload of his music, old, and new, including his latest (and last) album, Blackstar.
I was thinking about Bowie last Friday, about his contributions to music over the last 50 years (basically, my lifetime), and his influence on a host of younger musicians that I was a fan of during the 1990s, including bands like Nirvana, who covered “The Man Who Sold the World.” Bowie always set his own course, from the glam-rock of the early 1970s, and Ziggy Stardust through Diamond Dogs, and well beyond.
Reinvention gets a lot of mileage here at the JBE. The topic also gets bandied about in various circles and contexts, but few people truly embrace reinvention and change with vigor and gusto. Bowie certainly did, right up until the very end.
David Bowie died yesterday, after apparently battling cancer for 18 months. I heard the news on my early morning drive to the Bath Y, for my regular Monday swim.
I’ve heard all manner of Bowie tunes most of the day, as KEXP has been playing much of his catalog, and now, WCYY and Mark Curdo is paying tribute to the man and his music. It’s interesting hearing certain songs that were on the radio when I was in high school, and recognizing others that ruled subsequent decades. Bowie’s music never went out of style—he wouldn’t allow it.
There are a handful of tunes that would rank up there as my favorite Bowie tunes, but this one is my all-time David Bowie song that I never grew tired of hearing. He was attuned to the demise of Detroit, long before it became fodder for journalists and pickings for investors looking to acquire property and exploit the city for pennies on the dollar.
So my nostalgic nod takes me back to magazines like Creem and Circus, reading about Bowie and 70s glam-rockers, and remembering a time when the first whiff of collapse was in the air, and Bowie picked up on it in the song he wrote on his first U.S. tour.