As I’m fighting a cold, my sleep has been fitful anyway, so I didn’t need my phone to be making little noises on the bedside table through the wee hours. Eventually, I reached over to see what it was on about. Oh. David Bowie’s dead.
I had not known he was ill, although in truth, he never looked all that robust.
I was never a big fan, but perhaps some of you were, so I thought I’d provide this opportunity for you to comment.
The above video is my favorite song of his, although I could do without the visuals. I always found his theatricality a bit on the excessive side. As you know, I have a different notion of how musicians should look. I like the casual, look-at-my-music-not-at-me approach. I want them to look cool, not overwrought.
Oddly, possibly because I was not a fan and didn’t listen to his albums (back in the ultimate period of album-oriented rock), I was unaware of this one song until the last few years, when it formed such an inspirational part in the British TV series “Life on Mars.” Here’s what I said about it awhile back:
I could swear to you that this song did not exist before I first watched, on DVD, the British time-travel-cop show of the same name (sans question mark). I had zero memory of it. Of course, I wasn’t at all into Bowie in his initial iteration, but still — I had heard and enjoyed “A Space Oddity” and heard other songs of his in the background. But I had completely missed this. Even now, I’m not sure if it’s just that the song itself is so great (which it may be; a critic in The Telegraph listed it as the single greatest song of all time, with “Let it Be,” one of my personal favorites, in second place) or it’s just the way it shaped the wonderful opening scene in which the protagonist of the TV show is transported back to 1973 that imprinted it so favorably on my mind. (Wonderful touch — the song begins the scene playing on the character’s early iPod, which itself now looks dated, then ends up on an 8-track.) In any case, I listen to it a lot now. Oh, a word in your shell-like: Don’t bother putting the American series based on this into your Netflix queue (despite the presence of Harvey Keitel in the cast); just watch the original. (Best bit:37 seconds into this clip, as the character “wakes up” into 1973 and the music reaches its climax.)
Oh, and sorry, but that clip with the best bit is no longer available. The Beeb had it taken off YouTube.