Tuesday, 12 January 2016

VALE BOWIE

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When I think of Bowie, I think of my childhood growing up in outer suburban Melbourne.  It was a wasteland for potential and violence in equal measure. Skinheads (or sharpies depending on your era) ruled. A unique Australian cultural and fashion trend that appealed to the baby boomers sense of tribal wellbeing. There was safety in numbers when you didn’t know what your future would be. There was war, there was pollution and overpopulation being whispered into every teenager’s ear as the media was beginning to realise the potential of the spending power and the use of manipulation of this new generation who were clearly a world apart from their elders.

Music was loud basic and had stagnated. Australia at the time was Boogie, Thorpy “suck more piss” and radio bans.

Then there was Bowie.

Beautiful Bowie, the one the girls all loved and wanted to make love to and all the boys wanted to be him because of…well… the former.

The one thing I realised many years later, these fans who are all now nearing their sixties were being manipulated by the master. Back in the feral mid 1970s anyone who dressed like Bowie Ziggy/Aladdin Sane era with tight body suits, make up and effeminate poses was an obvious “poofta” Gay was a word seldom used those days, queer maybe because it sounded harsher and there was always the ubiquitous “faggot”. But Bowie –bless him- could do anything. The girls loved him, the boys wanted to be him so excuses had to be made. Choices and opinions had to be formed. If Bowie is a poof then poofta’s must be OK.

Right?

Here was a pop star that changed music, popular culture and opinion because he could read the kids. The fact that those kids were half a world away in a country he had yet to visit but would go on to record , temporarily live in and tour seven times endeared him to us.
David Bowie helped change popular conceptions and take on sacred cows, he made the kids think.

Change was good.

Ironically fans don’t always want change and want their heroes to create the same music that they associate a certain period of their lives with. Thus Bowie’s wide fan base stretching over so many years and identities, he had so many disappointed fans that hated him but forgave him, hoping he’d turn around and come back to them musically one day.
Bowie’s appeal goes on and on; he was around when the Beatles were still together and still made music literally till his last dying breath. His longevity made him more relevant than the touring joke that are (and his great friends) the Rolling Stones. He changed so that he didn’t become a parody of himself. Making new music and trying to connect.


Bowie will always be cool, beautiful and relevant and most importantly teaching us something about ourselves. No matter how old we are or think we are.

One of my favourite David Bowie tracks.