“The door to dreams was closed.
Your park was real dreamless
Perhaps you’re smiling now,
Smiling through this darkness”
David Bowie – ‘Time’
Last night I watched Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Motion Picture, a live recording of David Bowie’s 1973 performance at the Hammersmith Arena; it was mesmerising.
David Bowie is a new phenomenon to me. I watched a documentary entitled The Genius of David Bowie last year, and ever since I’ve been obsessed with him. Friends always told me to give him a chance but I just never took the time to listen or to learn about him. Then I saw a performance of ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ on said documentary, and I finally understood what everyone had been trying to tell me; the man was indeed a genius.
To a modern musical eye and ear, old footage of Bowie in a fantastically revealing cat suit singing about ‘Time’ who ‘falls wanking to the floor’, probably isn’t all that shocking. I think my generation is pretty desensitised to it. I don’t know who’s ‘to blame’ for this apathy, but it’s pretty difficult to ‘shock’ nowadays, which is what my parents were trying to explain to me last night. When David Bowie wore that outfit and sang that lyric in the 70’s, he simultaneously intrigued and disgusted a nation. My Mum said that her parents were pretty appalled by his androgyny; they wouldn’t let her play his music in the house. Luckily, my Mum was a bit of a Rebel Rebel, and travelled all the way to Milton Keynes with her friend George, to see Bowie in the 80’s. They missed their last train home and had to sleep outside the station. If I did anything remotely similar to that now she’d probably have a heart attack.
I don’t think there’s a single musician that my parents hold that strong an objection to these days (Thank God). They’ve never told me not listen to a particular artist, they don’t interfere with things like that; they understand that its personal choice and not everyone can love everything. I find it really hard to believe that their parents felt that strongly about David Bowie. Even if you take away the outrageous costumes and promiscuous, drug-fuelled lifestyle he had; his music is still incredible. His ability to tell a story is phenomenal; whether it’s about Life on Mars or the Panic in Detroit, Bowie has a way with words and rhythm that no new artist will ever be able to recapture.