Sunday, January 8, 2017

David Bowie's 70th Birthday

Today David Bowie would have turned 70 years old. Nearly a year after his death (he died January 10 2016) it is still hard for me to accept that he still isn't in this world. In many respects David Bowie was the first major artist I ever discovered on my own. The Beatles were already a phenomenon in the United Kingdom before I was born and came to the United States when I was less than a year old. The Who arrived on American shores when I was only two. Even the TV show The Monkees debuted when I was only three years old. I largely learned of these acts from others (such as my much older sister) or, many times, from television. David Bowie I first heard on the radio.

In some ways, then, today is a bittersweet day for me. On the one hand it is the seventieth anniversary of David Bowie's birth. It is the day that gave us one of the most influential rock performers of all time, It is a day that gave us a legendary songwriter and singer who revolutionised rock music. On the other hand it is also the first of David Bowie's birthdays that he is not here with us to celebrate. It then serves as a reminder for myself and other David Bowie fans that he died last January. Indeed, in a year filled with deaths there would only be two that I would take harder (Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher).

In “Leuchtende Tage" ("Bright Days"), German poet  Ludwig Jacobowski wrote of those bright days, "Nicht weinen, weil sie vorüber!/Lächeln, weil sie gewesen!", "Do not cry because they are past,/Smile because they have been!" I suppose then on this day we should be happy that David Bowie existed at all. That he died all too soon does not change the many songs he wrote and performed, nor does it alter the important contributions he made to rock music. While it is certainly sad that he is gone, we should perhaps be much happier that he lived at all.

In celebration of David Bowie's live, then, I leave you with my all time favourite David Bowie song. It is "Suffragette City" from his album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

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