To begin I must explain this testimonial, as that is what this is. It is not an article per-say or what we usually do here at ATYPICALSOUNDS, but instead an appreciation for one of the most influential musical geniuses of our lifetime. I must say also that I am not the biggest fan- not because I don’t like his music, but because I am still discovering it. Someone just recently told me that Diamond Dogs is an album and not the name of a baseball team as I had previously thought. That being said, David Bowie did affect my life, just as I’m sure he has affected some of yours.
I first came into contact with Bowie in my teens, which is when I first got into music. I know, I know, getting into music in your teens is kinda late. Well, one late August afternoon I was being driven around after a shitty summer (my middle school to high school transition summer). My middle school friends and I stopped hanging out as much.. we were slowly beginning to realize that we were probably just friends thanks to the convenient proximity. I was upset that I didn’t get into the high school that I wanted (Screw you, Forest Hills High!) My level of teen angst was a dangerous red.
Then a song came on, one that I had heard snippets of throughout my life but never really took the time out to hear it all: “Under Pressure.” “Under Pressure” is one of those songs that shall not be ignored when played. It’s just impossible. Two vocals of some of the most influential people in music history come together to make one of the most beautiful songs of all time. As I sat there in the car, I felt the warm August air on my face and I got this feeling in my stomach later confirmed to be butterflies. It is the same feeling I got when I heard “Heroin“ by The Velvet Underground or “The Lemon Song“ by Led Zeppelin or when I had my first kiss.
I would go home, open Limewire, and download that song that very same day. I wouldn’t think of Bowie for 3 years until my senior year.
At the end of my junior year of high school and into my senior year I started watching Flight of the Conchords. One the episodes was about David Bowie. Bret gets visited by David Bowie from the 3 different stages in his life (in a dream). Throughout the years I had of course heard more about David Bowie. He became a person who I knew about without really having heard his music. He was the David Foster Wallace of musicians for me. So I paused the show and googled him some more. That’s when I met Major Tom.
Holy crap. Up until then I didn’t know you could tell a story through music, and oh “Space Oddity” is an incredible story. A sad tale with ups and downs that illustrate the ill-fated Major Tom. Bowie wasn’t the guy from Flight of the Conchords, Bowie is so much more than a mystical figment of Bret’s imagination. Bowie is.. was a legend.
I wish I could say that from there I picked up and went through his catalogue of music and that I became familiar with it, but I didn’t. I also haven’t read Infinite Jest.
A few of his hits have accompanied me throughout small but very intimate moments in my life. I remember dancing with “Starman” on rare days when no one was home. Getting drunk with “The Man Who Sold The World.” Getting ready for a date and realizing that nothing’s gonna touch me in these “Golden Years.” Feeling like a “Rebel Rebel” during early morning runs.
When I woke up this morning and saw the New York Times app, I was taken aback. He couldn’t die. He has been a constant throughout my life. He couldn’t. It couldn’t be. But he did, and it was.
David Bowie had so much to offer that in his last year he gave us one last album, Blackstar. He gave you all a lot of great moments, and he has given me some moments I have yet to experience. I have so much of his music to still discover. It is an anticipated gift that I know I’ll enjoy unwrapping. He’s immortalized through the 40 plus years of art he has left for us.
I have been given the impossible task to write something about our dear David Bowie. I say impossible because I know that nothing that I say could ever do the man justice. So I’ll end this piece, this little outpour, with this; a most sincere and honest thank you. Thank you so very much for everything. Check ignition, and may God’s love be with you.