The Man Who Fell to Earth
“You’ve got your mother in a whirl
She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl„
David Bowie the “first metrosexual,” goblin king, hero to many and god to some.
Including yours truly.
There isn’t one person or artist responsible for my personal style, but on a shortlist of the most influential on my life would be David Bowie’s aesthetic and music. The iconic androgynous nature and arresting image spanned a half-century and is a feat unto itself. Surely there will not be or should not be another like him in our lifetimes. Unparalleled with many imitators and a few supplicants to the altar of his fame, in a world largely fashioned by (his boldness into) the constant reinvention of your image.
While today artists invest a great deal in their image, all to sell a single, as opposed to an album – Bowie was meticulously fashioning miniature worlds and inhabiting fully formed characters in order to pursue artistic ideals. A favorite period, for me personally, is The Berlin Trilogy: Low>Heroes>Lodger and what seems to be the height of musical perfection. Largely because there has been nothing like it before or since. Unconventional and well ahead of its time, inspiring many who would go on to reshape the landscape of modern music into Punk & New Wave, this trio is a touchstone for artistic excellence.
On the next page, under the heading Vision you see the many different styles that Bowie is able to inhabit vividly while not losing an ounce of respect. Even through his pop & electronic periods are my least favorite they have brought us to his neo-classical period and it all seems age appropriate or like the rounding an artist would make in a career that has spanned half a century. None of these are his truest self, anymore than one painting would make a Picasso. Yet each are pieces along a journey that takes its listener along for the ride of a lifetime. Taken in totality they are the mark of a one-of-a-kind artist that the world sorely needs more of today.
Yet also there isn’t the climate or the landscape for such artists to emerge. Today you are judged as eagerly on your chart success of one single as you are by your latest appearance at whatever long list of awards shows that seem to sprout like fungus across our media landscape. The attention span is shortened, to the point of chasing ashiny thing through the ether until you don’t realize that none of it satiates you. Not the way spending time listening to your vinyl album and immersing yourself in a world far far away from anything you once dreamed possible. That is the magic and enigmatic quality that defines David Bowie’s oeuvre.