David Bowie: Death is the New Black

 

Timing is everything, and David Bowie couldn’t have timed it better if he made a deal with God or the Devil! Knowing how he works: if they indeed do exist, he negotiated with both and parlayed a horn gig at the gates to boot.

David Bowie Scott Walker David Bowie Hunky Dory

From the very onset David Bowie tried and learned every angle of commercial timing and when to “face the strange”. Noting the recent Street named in Austin Texas (that may become permanent) when decades before he was shot at in Texas for wearing the infamous (man dress) circa: the “ Man who sold the world ” era. Taking chances, and being his own hero when it comes to bravery is a psychological study in itself.

How did someone who’s quote on “what to you, is living in hell” was “living in fear” overcome this? Apparently by hitting every avenue of fear (including death) with the confidence of a wolfpack in heat.
Taking into account all his earlier endeavors to incite and indeed create outrage and controversy the David Bowie ‘final masterstroke” was like a surprise heavyweight uppercut punch.

Even the “naff” albums of the late 80s and 90s seem like poised Willy Wonka missteps or Ali “faking” out an opponent with “I’m all done” knock me out then…… Instead, the “filler records” stand as a looming teetering dance till the final killing blow. In “Blackstar” Bowie redefines art and death on a worldwide platform for all to witness. Little wonder he is laughing (like a gnome) 48 hours before his death, he has laid the trap claiming not only commercial sales (1st number 1 album) AND high art all in a fell swoop!

 

On a humanistic level there seems to be a universal understanding that David Bowie somehow turned death on its head to serve HIS purpose. Everyone’s worst fear is to die a slow death from something like cancer. David Bowie somehow dealt with this, and proceeded to bring on the “changes” until his final crowning hour.

David Bowie Scott Walker and the winner is…..

It is well known among Bowie aficionados his fascination and interest all thought his life in another artist (Scott Walker). It was never a competition (which is really for the lesser classes) but a “lifelong chess match” at who could conjure up the real demons in creative ability. Much of Bowie’s swan song record“blackstar” is indeed influenced by the later Scott Walker works.

However, there is one huge difference, David Bowie made a commercially “listenable” record using dissonance, jazz and atonal elements. When Scott Walker reemerged in the late 90s after 20 years in”the wilderness”with the record “ Tilt” it was seen as a “impossible resurrection” in the music industry.

David Bowie has given more than a brief mention of Scott’s influence which includes the Jacques Brel refrain (chords and all) of “ Your Wonderful!” on Ziggy Stardust “ Rock & Roll Suicide”. As the death of David Bowie acknowledges what a fantastic pervasive influence he was on music in general, I believe his own personal (sound & vision) was to achieve his final crowning moment in “high art”.

As we continue to process what David Bowie has achieved near the end of his life and indeed beyond, we see “the man who sold love to the world” in all his strange and divine changes….

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