Saturday, December 26, 2015

David Bowie

Rolling Stone December 17-31, 2015
Always a fan of Bowie, it kicked into high gear the fan that I am of his artistry after seeing the Bowie exhibit at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art. Seeing the whole artist- music, art, film, fashion, I had a reawakened appreciation for the man and his work. And more than his music, I appreciate his artistry and process more than the songs themselves.

I did not buy, nor really listen to, Bowie's surprise record that was released two years ago. I didn't seek it out, and it wasn't really ever played on the radio, so I didn't hear any of it. This new record, which is will be released on January 8th, Bowie's 69th birthday, as seen in Andy Greene's Rolling Stone piece, had me checking it out on the Internet. In the article, Greene quotes Tony Visconti, Bowie's producer: "We were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar ... We wound up with nothing like that, but we loved the fact that Kendrick was so open-minded and he didn't do a straight-up hip-hop record. He threw everything on there, and that's exactly what we wanted to do. The goal, in many, many ways, was to avoid rock & roll."

Well, that is awfully interesting. The first song that I searched for is Blackstar, which is also the title of the record. I learned from the article that ITunes doesn't post singles longer than 10-minutes, so Bowie and Visconti had to cut it to just under 10. Imagine a 10-minute single, not a 70's album rock song like, oh, Freebird, but a contemporary piece. The song was produced as a short film. Greene describes it as "a surreal short movie where he portrays a blind prophet in space who comes across a group of scarecrow figures getting crucified." I have viewed it only once, and I can't seem to move it out of head. I was standing in a line for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, and I demonstrated the apocolyptic dance that the characters of the film perform while Bowie, the prophet, sings/preaches. It's mesmerizing and is what, in my estimation, makes Bowie so fascinating.

Part of the MCA Bowie exhibit was a retrospective of his films. I have seen most of them, and this fall, during Halloween, I found The Hunger, a lush, sensual vampire movie made with Catherine Deneuve. It was the perfect accompaniment to a darkening, blustery autumn night. Bowie is captivating. He has a subtle power. It sinks, perhaps permeates, in its intensity. He is magnetic. The video for Blackstar reminded me of this power. He is a vampire in its most romantic sense. He has aged, but not in the way that mere mortals do. His face is experienced, not weathered. He is an handsome man. I can feel his heart beat in this video, and I want to be pulled in by him. His artistic vision is fresh.

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