He owned the seventies, sold millions of records in the eighties and got to the 21st century before anyone else but in 2011 is nowhere to be seen… so, just where is David Bowie?
Growing up in the seventies you were growing up in Bowie time. If the sixties was defined by the Beatles with their every innovation and step forward pin pointing the decade the same could be said for the Thin White Duke in the seventies.
He may not have invented glam rock but he made it his with a series of astonishing singles and albums after he hit his stride with Hunky Dory. Each single was like a missive from an exotic space, each one a work of mind blowing genius that was far ahead of the rest of the pack. from Starman to Life on Mars to my own personal favourite Drive In Saturday Bowie was making pure pop with a deeper, darker backdrop. This stuff meant something.
He also ran through a whole gamut of looks a Ziggy chameleon that could change it’s skin at will leading a whole army of youthful droogs into a new land of colorful confusion. The disciples would go on to create punk, new romantic and a whole myriad of their own styles fired up by the breath taking inventiveness of Bowie.
He introduced the willing to the Stooges and the Velvet Underground and redefined alternative rock, perhaps even creating the idea of something beyond the mainstream. Bot only that he saved Iggy Pop from the rock n roll cul de sac and inspired him to pull himself out of the wreckage of a rock n roll career doomed to failure. It may not have been so drastic for Lou Reed but the former Velvets frontman was introduced to a whole army of willing acolytes by the Bowie taste machine.
Bowie’s albums were key moments of the decade and all the way up to and including Scary Monsters were works of pop art, each one redefining just what pop music could sound like and how far it could travel and just where we were all up to. From Lets Dance onwards he concentrated on just making big selling pop records without the kooky element but was still far ahead of the pack. There were glimmers of the old Bowie even until his last album 2003’s Reality. He toyed with drum and bass and proved he still had an ear for the now even if the future was bait more difficult to grasp.
He toured a sort of greatest his package. His voice still sounded wonderful but I’ll health but a stop to that before he slipped into an uncharacteristic silence, the workaholic dropped from the radar…
Where is Bowie now?
Will there ever be another record?
Is it just too difficult to make music when you are always expected to be the future?
Has he lost interest?
Or is this the cleverest move of a clever career? The fade to silence leaving his mystique intact?