In Memoriam of David Bowie

Some thoughts on David Bowie who passed away today one year ago.

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It’s hard to believe it’s been already one year since David Bowie passed away. He died from liver cancer in New York only two days after his 69th birthday, when he also released Blackstar, his 25th and last studio album.

I believe the first Bowie song I ever heard was Space Oddity on the radio. I must have been 12 at the time and in the process of getting into music. The title song of his second studio album remains one my favorite Bowie tunes to this day.

As Billboard reported, Bowie was obsessed with space. In addition to Space Oddity, he recorded other space-themed songs, such as Starman, Life on Mars? and Ashes to Ashes, the continuation of Major Tom’s saga.

And then there was of course Ziggy Stardust, the extraterrestrial rock star and alter-ego Bowie created in early 1972. His related fifth studio album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, is the best Bowie album, in my opinion. It includes an amazing amount of classics like Soul LoveStarman, Ziggy Stardust, Suffragette City and Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide.

Another vivid experience I connect with Bowie during my teenage years was the 1981 German movie Christiane F., in which he had a cameo appearance. The soundtrack consisted of Bowie songs that were mostly taken from the “Berlin Trilogy”, the three consecutive studio albums Bowie produced while living in West Berlin during the second half of the 70s: Low (1977), Heroes (1977) and Lodger (1979).

Released in 1981, the film is based on a true story of a young teenage girl in Berlin, Christiane F, who got into drugs, became a full-blown heroin addict, got into prostitution and almost died from an overdose. The plot has eerie parallels to the opioid crisis that’s ravaging the U.S. these days. The musical highlight of the movie is Heroes, which in the soundtrack version combines English with German lyrics – the only time I know of that Bowie sang in German.

Apart from the above songs, other Bowie tunes I like include The Man Who Sold the World (title song of album with the same name, 1970), Changes (Hunk Dory, 1971), The Jean Genie (Aladdin Sane, 1973), Rebel Rebel (Diamond Dogs, 1974), Wild Is the Wind (Station to Station, 1976), DJ (Lodger, 1979),  Let’s Dance (title song of album with the same name, 1983), Blue Jean (Tonight, 1984) and Absolute Beginners (from the rock musical film with the same name, 1986).

Over the next few weeks, prominent Bowie collaborators will perform a series of commemorating concerts. Events are scheduled in New York tonight, Los Angles (Jan 25), Sydney (Jan 29) and Tokyo (Feb 2). The first such show took place in London on Sunday (Jan 8), which would have been Bowie’s 70th birthday. Uncut Magazine did a story on the event, illustrated with a few clips, including a performance of Let’s Dance by Duran Duran’s Simon Le BonSting will headline the LA concert.

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