6 – Be a Team Player
Now, this isn’t exactly meant in the whole “Corporate Machine” sense of the phrase, because I really and truly do despise most everything “The Establishment” tries to shove down our throats as “How to be a Productive Member of Society”. What I mean is, as brilliant as he was in his own right, he understood that being able to work effectively with others made it possible to create some incredible things. Throughout his career he had successful collaborations with many other brilliant artists, and I don’t ever recall reading anything where such-n-such musician/director/actor made any remarks that would peg Bowie as difficult to work with in any way.
The list is pretty impressive too: John Lennon (Fame), Queen (Under Pressure), Roxy Music’s Brian Eno (Heroes), Mick Jagger (Dancing in the Streets), Iggy Pop (Sister Midnight), Trent Reznor (I’m Afraid of Americans), Lou Reed (Transformer album), Luther Vandross (Young Americans), Bing Crosby (Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy), Tina Turner (Tonight), Nile Rodgers (Let’s Dance)…the list, much like the beat, goes on…and this is JUST the list of musical collaborations. Add his acting credits to this and the number of artists he worked with is truly astounding.
Anyway, the point is, his very non-diva work ethic was something I took note of as a young Pixie.
5 – Always Be Yourself…Even if You’re Someone Different Every Day
David Bowie came on the scene in his own unique way. As time passed, he was constantly changing up his look, experimenting with new and different things, exploring different aspects of himself, bending gender perceptions, and generally just blowing people’s minds. He wasn’t afraid to share his “oddity” with the world, and while many may not have been sure what the hell they were looking at at times, many more saw a part of themselves in him. A part that they may have felt was “too weird” or “too different” for people to understand or love. Yet, here was Bowie, flaunting his very eclectic and ever-morphing self before the world in a very unapologetic manner and he was indeed loved for it. He was loved by the masses that felt like the misunderstood outsider…so, y’know every teenager that at the time, or any time since, that didn’t follow the crowd or fit into the mainstream. His career continued on and on and he continued to be loved, successful, profound, respected, revered, and relevant. He made it ok, even COOL to be different and quirky. Something this rather unique Pixie found reassuring. I didn’t always feel awesome about being different, but Bowie and the unique individuals he inspired (Duran Duran, Boy George, Depeche Mode, Annie Lennox, Madonna, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, etc…) always managed to make me feel better in my own skin and slowly learn to embrace my fabulously freakish self.
4 – You’re Never Too Cool to Work with Muppets
There’s really nothing else to be said about this, because I think it speaks for itself. 😉
3 – Lovers Never Lose, Gentleness Clears Your Soul, and Fear’s Just in Your Head
The lyrics say it all…and more…
2 – Something Beautiful Can Come from a Tragic Story
Of the multitudes of songs, quotes, and movie roles that he gave us throughout the decades of my life (and the few years before my life began) there is one song that struck me harder and deeper than any other. Space Oddity is very simple in its composition, tragic in its story, and beautiful in its entirety. It starts out hopeful and thrilling as our hero Major Tom blasts off into space. The world is excited and proud and wants to know all there is to know about our brave explorer. We experience his awe as he describes the spectacular vastness that he is witnessing…and then, everything goes wrong. Chances are, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know…because who doesn’t know this song??? Anyway, I cannot accurately describe the profound impact this song has had on me. It reaches into my soul and touches something that fills me with love, wonder, sadness…and somehow…joy…all at the same time.
1 – Live Your Life Robustly and on YOUR Terms…Right to the End
This remarkable inspirational entity had so much to say, that he never stopped creating and sharing parts of himself with us. He was ill, and knew his time was short, yet he kept creating and lived his life to the fullest every day with very few knowing that anything was wrong. He was a very busy bee in his last years. He spearheaded and wrote the score for the off Broadway production of Lazarus; a musical based on the sci-fi classic “The Man Who Fell to Earth” in which he played the lead role in 1976. At the same time he was in studio laying down the tracks to his final album Blackstar, as well as filming the videos for the first two singles “Blackstar” and “Lazarus”.
Both of his final projects are very real representations of a man coming to terms with his mortality. For a rock star he was an extraordinarily private man, yet in these works he shares with us the most intimate parts of himself. The album is poignant, brilliant, and exceedingly beautiful…I’ve no doubt that his production of Lazarus is the same (judging by the ticket sales throughout its run, I think I’m correct in my assumption).
I wish I could thank him for these generous gifts he’s bestowed upon us…and it may sound funny to you…or maybe it won’t…I just had a thought to the tune of Space Oddity:
“Tell Bowie we love him very much” echoed by David’s own ethereal voice saying “He knows”…