Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie

They say the music that’s popular when you’re in high school will always be the music that you think is “best,” a saying that has some merit but has proven to be demonstrably untrue throughout my life.  Still, I think it’s fair to say that the music released from 1995-2000 did, in many ways, sort of form a fixed point for me in how I perceived certain artists.  Artists who were big in that era always “seemed” pretty big for years afterwards, despite how they were clearly just the one-hit wonders or jokes of their era, in the way that many bands who were big just a few years before my musical prime seemed impossibly dated.

To wit, David Bowie released the Earthling record in 1997, which featured the “Little Wonder” and “I’m Afraid Of Americans” singles.  Both songs were, and are, pretty weird.  To my musically-uneducated ears, they didn’t sound appreciatively different from some of the other electronica or dance music of the era, i.e. the Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim, etc.  I knew who David Bowie was, of course, though my knowledge of his music didn’t extend too much beyond “here’s this guy who’s a legend trying to appropriate modern sounds.”

Little did I know then, however, that this was basically what Bowie had done this entire career.  Minus his self-admitted sellout periods throughout the 80’s, Bowie was a guy who never seemed satisfied unless he was zigging (or literally Ziggy-ing) when others were zagging.  Even once he’d carved out his own niche as to what a “David Bowie song” was, he could’ve comfortably mined that corner for years but he kept changing things up.

In my own case, I think I was just on the periphery of getting into a full-on Bowie deep dive.  Within the last few years, I have…
a) watched ‘Labyrinth’ for, somehow, the first time
b) adopted ‘Modern Love’ as one of my all-time favourite songs.  (Two excellent uses of the track in Sleeping With Other People and Frances Ha have contributed heavily to this designation)
c) put not only ‘Modern Love’ but ‘Under Pressure’ on an iTunes playlist tentatively titled “My Favourite Songs Ever” that I’ll somehow burn onto a CD when I finally feel satisfied with the tracklist in 25-30 years.


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