January 11, 2016 – The Day David Bowie Began His Next Journey.

January 11, 2016 – The Day David Bowie Began His Next Journey.

Monday, 11 January 2016

It was one of those moments that I can say I remember perfectly – in spite of the ungodly hour. It was 4:30 AM Eastern Standard Time; I had just come back to bed after attempting to get my youngest daughter back to sleep (it would work for about an hour, before the whole process needed to be undertaken again). My wife, who had been awakened by the baby too, turned to me and said, “I just read it on my phone – David Bowie died tonight.”

I was tired, but my mind still did a backflip. It had just been the singer’s birthday a few days before, and he had released his twenty-fifth album too – the first thought which crossed my weary mind was, “That can’t be right. There’s no way he’ll be able to support Blackstar.” Slowly, the nightly cobwebs cleared and it sunk in:

David Bowie is dead.

I can safely say that I don’t remember exactly where I first his music, but I do know that I can say I’ve been a lifelong fan. I can remember loving “Golden Years” and “Heroes” before I was old enough to ride Space Mountain at Disney World, I recall learning to play “Ziggy Stardust,” “Suffragette City” and “Starman” when I first started learning to play guitar in high school. I remember trying to learn to play “Little Wonder” without the benefit of post-production effects at that time too. I recorded my own version of “Space Oddity” for use as my demo when I applied to the Recorded Music Production program at Fanshawe College. I didn’t get into the program, but I suspect that had more to do with my performance than it did my choice of song. I have all of these memories because I have been a David Bowie fan all of my life and the songs have always been there for me to love and, even better, there have always been new ones to discover.

That ongoing possibility of new music has come to an end now, and it just feels strange. It feels wrong.

The end of new music certainly marks the end of an era; 2016 will now be remembered as the final of forty-nine consecutive years that fans have been able to hope for new music from David Bowie. The singer never was never content to lay fallow and didn’t allow himself to get comfortable with a single sound but, for fans, that was often part of the joy of it all; they never knew what exactly to expect from the singer (transitions like those made between Aladdin Sane and Diamond Dogs as well as Station To Station and Low or even Buddha of Suburbia to Outside and Earthling ensured that), only that it would likely be something new and challenging. There were occasions when that promise felt a bit like a threat but, more often than not, the promise of possible excitement was greater than the promise of possible frustration and that’s why fans always kept coming back after they were first bitten. That such excitement will forevermore be gone casts a pall over pop music which may never be completely lifted; Bowie taught the world to really relish the prospect of change and variety in pop music and the singer’s fearless creativity helped to inspire and inform several decades’ worth of musicians and music.

The music and the memory of what Bowie did in his career will hopefully continue to inform and inspire more musical change and creativity even now that that the singer has been silenced. In the end, that hope and inspiration is the greatest promise the singer could provide; his circuit’s dead, there’s something wrong – but hopefully David Bowie’s transmissions will carry long, far and wide for a long time to come. [BILL ADAMS]


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