Goodbye to David Bowie

David-bowie-changes

It was a bit of a shock, wasn’t it.

David Bowie’s death was announced as we ate our breakfasts, had our showers and got the children ready for the day. ‘But he’s only just released an album,’ we all said – as if that might somehow have put some kind of a delay on mortality.

But then it all became clear. This was all part of the plan. David Bowie knew he was going and so the album was his way of saying goodbye: ‘Look up here – I’m in heaven’ he sings on Lazarus.

Tony Visconti got it right – being Bowie’s producers he was well placed to get it right – when he said how ‘His death was not different from his life — a work of Art.’ How could we expect it to be anything else?

I’m ashamed to say my knowledge of David Bowie is not as great as it could be. A couple of best ofs and three rarely listened to albums.

This will, inevitably change. Today, at work, I was listening to The Next Day, which I hadn’t yet properly got my teeth into and was kicking myself that I hadn’t properly listened to it before.

I’ll be getting my hands on Black Star at the earliest possible opportunity.

As to why I haven’t bitten the bullet with Bowie’s back catalogue when I’ve furiously consumed much of Dylan, The Beatles, The Clash, Pink Floyd and all the other grand masters of rock, I really don’t know.

It’s particularly weird because when I first fell  head over heels in love with all this modern pop music stuff, it was partly down to a Bowie song.

It was in an ‘A’ Level music class. In these lessons the four of us would often be asked to listen to some piece of music and analyse it to death: a Mozart symphany, a Beethoven sonata, a Monteverdi vesper – or ‘Changes’ by David Bowie.

The fact that the people who set the ‘A’ Level syllabus saw fit to put Bowie’s music alongside Mozart and Beethoven is the biggest compliment a schools examining board can probably make.

And it’s one that we should all make.

I listened to ‘Changes’ transfixed. The rising piano introduction, the horns, that voice. It was pure perfection. Whether or not I was able to identify any parallel fifths or notate the bass line by ear, I have no idea.I was probably just too bowled over.

It’s a magnificent song. But enough from me; it’s probably just best to listen to it.

There’s another David Bowie related memory I have from school.

We put on a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. I played Pontius Pilate. My mate Matt Mills played Caiaphas. And my friend Guy Grimsley played Herod.

While I was given a 1920s gangster outfit to wear, and Matt wore a dinner jacket, Guy was going to have the most fun in a glam rock outfit. The plan, originally was for it to be part Gary Glitter part Aladdin Sane.

Somewhere along the line the Gary Glitter news broke (this was 1997) and the director decided, rather wisely, to emphasise the Aladdin Sane element – and wisely so.

For many, many reasons.

Farewell, you rock and roller. Farewell.

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