Remembering David Bowie's Risks and Restlessness
Genre-defying pioneer David Bowie succumbed to an eighteen-month battle with cancer on Sunday evening, and left a massive hole in the world’s musical landscape. A statement issued on his social media accounts said that he “died peacefully surrounded by family.”
Bowie was an artist in the truest sense of the word, never afraid of his celebrated back catalog, but never reliant on it either. It’s apt that his latest and last album of new material, Blackstar, was released on Friday, just days before his death, and true to form it challenged the very idea of what a Bowie album sounds like. Friend and longtime collaborator Tony Visconti said in a statement on Facebook, “He made Blackstar for us. It’s his parting gift.”
“His death was no different from his life - a work of Art,” Visconti wrote. “I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn't, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.”
In a review of Blackstar for Westword last week, Jon Solomon said that while it's not a jazz album, Blackstar demonstrates Bowie's impeccable taste in recruiting some of the genre's greats. "And sometimes putting jazz players into a rock setting can achieve exciting results," Solomon wrote. "In Blackstar's case, it put Bowie in a slightly different context, and he sounds renewed."
On 1995’s Outside, for example, listeners could hear him soaking in the work of contemporary industrial artists like Nine Inch Nails and spitting out a dark, nasty album that was thrilling — yet clearly still
Back in ’95, Michael Roberts reviewed Bowie in concert with Nine Inch Nails, describing
That’s perfect: Being a risk-taker is part of what made Bowie Bowie.
Sir Paul McCartney described him to the BBC as a “great star” who “played a very strong part in British musical history.”
The tributes continue to pour in, with friend and collaborator Iggy Pop writing on Twitter, “David's friendship was the light of my life. I never met such a brilliant person. He was the best there is."
Madonna also tweeted that she was “devastated” and that
The fact that
Just this last weekend, Bowie’s birthday was celebrated at Denver's hi-dive with Bowiefest, featuring local bands like I Am Love, Shady Elders, Ancient Elk, Bark Wilson and SCARY DRUGS paying tribute to the man and showing just how far his influence has spread.
When musicians die, the praise will always be heaped on by the shovel-full. But when we say that there will never be another one like David Bowie, you’d better believe it. Perhaps the modern musical climate will no longer allow for a star of his stature to experiment and evolve in such a drastic fashion. In addition to his incredible music, David Bowie’s lasting impact should be his restlessness, and all that becomes possible by the desire to keep moving.
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