Aaron’s Blog-Discovering David Bowie (1947-2016)

www.vam.ac.uk
www.vam.ac.uk

Like many fans across the world, I was shocked to learn of the passing of David Bowie. I discovered Bowie while I was a senior in high school. I was listening to a local public radio station during my winter break and what came out of my boom box was this beautifully composed composition, Warszawa. I was hearing this music and something in my mind just broke down-It was my soft introduction to David Bowie’s Low.

Produced by Tony Visconti, producer of the Berlin Trilogy while having Brian Eno formerly of Roxy Music as his collaborator create this textured album of sophisticated pop and electronic compositions. When I was young, my musical taste was developing. Hearing David Bowie pre-Let’s Dance was an awakening, I didn’t know much of about Bowie except for the 80’s and 90’s music which I enjoyed quite a bit. To hear “Warszawa” presented me an opportunity to explore his back catalog.

Researching music on a dial up connection is time consuming. Music doesn’t load up quickly and it cost money. I was determined to hear this piece again so I would listen to all things college radio. It wouldn’t take any more than early winter of 2001 during my 1st year in college to get my chance. I was getting a ride with my dad and I was able to pick our morning drive music. Living close to Windsor, Ontario has its advantages for radio guy such as me-the host for the morning was going to play the entire Low album. Each song was better than the next but I didn’t know if my quest would be complete-is this the album? All signs were pointing yes but what if it wasn’t it?

Suddenly, I hear this rumbling coming out of my father’s work van speakers. Brian Eno’s deliciously calm synth delivery covers you like a blanket from the cold. Bowie, Eno and Iggy Pop (as credited) deliver this amazing chanting-it’s quite the emotional instrumental for the most part. That weekend, I bought the album and felt like I discovered the fountain of youth or felt the light. From Low, I picked up Heathen, Young Americans, Heroes followed by Lodger. As my taste for Bowie played out, my brother would begin to buy Bowie albums such as Hunkey Dory, Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane.

Known for his plastic soul, “The Thin White Duke” to the “Chameleon”, David Bowie covered all areas of music. He started as a saxophonist and if you like to read liner notes such Roberto and I, David played multi instruments from guitar to various keyboards. He wrote and produced with artist such as Iggy Pop, Mott the Hopple, Queen and influenced countless others. David Bowie could rock and pop with appreciation to instrumental tracks. As a young adult; I found a music nook with Bowie.

Identity, the future, sexual frustration and acceptance-all areas focused through his songwriting. Bowie was the type of performer/artist I would want to be if I had that in me minus the drug habit that he kicked while making Low. For me, David Bowie begins with Low. As I had just purchased his now final album ★ (Blackstar) and Bowie’s approach is dark soul. The album is full of wounded emotion and is wonderfully crafted with jazz rhythm and timing. I had hoped that he would surprise his fans with one more tour to be announced on his 70th birthday. Sadly that will never happen but I am humbled to be a part of his swan song into his infinite rest.

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