When I saw that David Bowie had passed yesterday morning, I at first thought what I normally think when a celebrity passes unexpectedly – well, that is sad. And then during the drive into the office and listening to Bowie favorites and reading tributes and social media eulogies, I got sad. It takes time to wrap your head around the importance of David Bowie to music lovers. You think for a second that yeah, sure, he had a few hits. …and then you realize that those few hits are YOUR few hits, your microcosm of his career that spanned decades and genres. Bowie created genres.
I first learned of Bowie in an odd way. I saw, now this was a long time ago, on a Christmas special the Bing Crosby and David Bowie version of “Little Drummer Boy”/”Peace On Earth”. It was mesmerizing. Here was this guy with funky eyes adding something so different and loving to the traditional Christmas song with a fifties crooner. …and that is how I choose to remember Bowie.
He was the greatest collaborator ever. Let’s take a look at a short list I rattled off in the break room at work: Bing Crosby, Brian Eno, Freddie Mercury, John Lennon, Mick Jagger, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Trent Reznor, Nile Rogers, Luther Vandross, Iggy Pop and so many more. Look at that list. Blues, glam, disco, electronica, post-punk – name an artist that has his name on records in more areas on the floor of Waterloo. I mean, I don’t know if anyone COULD love ALL of his catalog due to his unabashed recreations.
How was one person so giving, yet inspired? How can someone be at the same time a creator and contributor in so many genres with so many personalities? That should be his legacy, more than any one song or lyric. The people he worked with that he elevated and the people that he was elevated by, always a positive, always moving forward.
Now I have to go listen to the last album he gave us again and read into every lyric what none of us wanted to admit we heard at first listen; it was goodbye.