So I have this friend, beautiful friend, love her to death. Like most people she has flaws. We all do and quite honestly it’s the flaws to me that make people so interesting. Try as we might we can’t be perfect. Now my friend she doesn’t think she has any flaws. She is right about every single thing has to win every single argument and naturally is the best at everything even if she isn’t. You actually can prove her wrong and then she will deny ever saying what she said that you just proved wrong. Yes this can be frustrating.
Me, I am just the opposite. I tell everyone everything. I have had a lot of success and yet I know I am not successful. I won’t be remembered for much and I know I am not very well liked. I guess its why I value the few friends who do take care of me. Since my blindness I am fragile as hell. I am the most flawed person on the planet. Except for a brief converstion with a friend who stopped by I have not had an extended conversation with anyone in almost a month. I am actually losing my voice from not using it. Now I know here we go again what the hell does this have to do with anything musical. I am getting there. So one of my flaws is a deep fear of space travel. I saw the movie Planet of the Apes when I was around six. Now you may be appalled but honestly the movie didn’t bother me except for one brief moment in the beginning of the movie when they are landing. They land and then find that one of the astronauts died because her glass covering cracked. It gave me nightmares. Like everyone else in 1969 I watched the moon landings. It scared me. I am sure when Apollo 13 had their issues I watched along with my parents yet I don’t remember and I wonder if I just blocked it all. In 1986 the Challenger explosion gave me nightmares for weeks. I have never read what happened and I don’t want to. When Columbia crashed same thing. I had nightmares. Some people want to travel in space but not me. It scares the hell out of me.
In 1969 David Bowie released Space Oddity. I have no idea when this really hit widespread play in the United States but I remember the airplay of the song after my family had moved to Hurst in 1972. Naturally the song scared me and I wanted nothing to do with it. I would ask that the station be changed and even later would change it myself. I would walk from rooms. To date I still don’t like it. It makes me uncomfortable the same way the movie 2001 Space Odyssey does. Now I can see the wheels turning in my friends heads oh we will make him listen to it. Its ok I can manage it so do your worst, I have heard the song a million times. Given how the song has traumatized me and given the very few friends I have I would doubt that a true friend would want to put me through it but some yahoo will.
Now the other thing I really remember about early Bowie was American disc jockeys struggling with the pronunciation of his last name. Now I have no idea why they made this so complicated or maybe they were just stupid, or it could have been coming from Bowie’s management or marketing team as he really pushed into the USA. Who knows but first it was Bowie like Jim Bowie who single handedly fought off over 10,000 Mexican soldiers from his bed duting the final assault of the Alamo with a Bowie knife in his teeth and 15 pistols firing. So we are taught in Texas. Heck I wondered if David was somehow related to Jim Bowie. He wasn’t and for the record Jim Bowie was dead before the final assault on the Alamo no matter what the damn movies tell you. Then it was David Bow-ie as in bow wow wow here doggie. Geez it seemed to take forever before it was decided or figured out that it was Bowie as in Bow tie.
Now to me Bowie is one of those guys that provides balance to the world. I would like to think that for every bad dude or jerk there is someone to balance that. Bowie is one of those guys. He is like George Harrison you can see the kindness in his eyes. That’s no small thing. Musically though for me there was someone else I was always spending my money on. In fact I don’t think I ever walked into a music store to buy an album by David Bowie until I bought Aladdin Sane in the mid 80’s and by then that album had been out for more than 10 years. He just didn’t spark my interest in that way and that had nothing to do with Space Oddity. Yet he has probably 20 songs I love and when they come on the radio its just automatically turn them up, from The Man Who Sold the World, to Ziggy Stardust, to Jean Genie and Hussshhhhhhhhhhhhhhh China Girl which is probably my favorite all time Bowie song. There are always artists like that and then one day if you are like me you ask the question why don’t I have more music by Bowie.
Somewhere around 2007 I asked this question. So I asked a friend of mine who is David Bowie all the time greatest ever has everything every re-issue knows every detail and I got some help on where to start with Bowie’s massive collection. What a start my friend gave me. Recently I posted a question on facebook asking for the 5 greatest albums of all time which was somewhat disastrous as it turned into the 5 albums you would take with you if you were stranded on a desert island which isn’t actually the same question at all no matter how you spin it but I did appreciate the people who actually answered honestly. Bowie at the Beeb is an album I would want to be stranded with, if of course it was a weird island that somehow offered you no way to escape but a way to play albums. Think about that one if you will, The album is early live recordings of shows on the BBC. It is amazing, most of it all early stuff even before he was a big star. The song Amsterdam is about the most amazing song, or most amazng performance of a song I have ever heard.
I now have about 90% of Bowie’s stuff, maybe more. One thing you notice when you start listening to it is how many great songs he had and secondly how much he eveolved as an artist. I love him. I do but I still don’t just adore him. He has multiple albums in a row that I struggle to find the good in. I guess when you have 25 plus albums that stuff will happen and you could probably say that about anyone similar. He was influential, a great song writer, a great performer a great human being and left a legacy that is not easily duplicated or matched. While I might still get the shivers when Space Oddity comes on, China Girl will always make me bounce and sing Husssssssssh.
The best thing about him is that he didn’t fight at the Alamo but I think he watched from a nearby hill and then moved to a small town in Texas that was soon named after him and that’s the story behind Bowie, Texas where when he wasn’t making music made knives. Hah!