Something happened on the day he died (David Bowie one year ago)


We wrote these fragments a day after his death. We haven’t really looked at them since, but the idea came up to do a re-run on the one year anniversary and see what came out. One year later comments are in green. We recommend that you listen to either Scary Monsters, Let’s Dance or Heathen while reading this. Thank you. Sorry. Our condolences. /Adam & Sam

Not all of David Bowie’s lyrics are straight forward. On second thought, I can’t remember one that is. This never stopped me from understanding every last line. They always meant the world to me. And for me the greatest learning was that appreciation is not necessarily understanding – impression is not dependent on intellect.

Extremely valid. You consume culture to gain perspective on life, society and the cosmos. The shape and form this will be delivered is never obvious. Bowie’s cultural deed is an exceptional example of this.

One of my strongest memories is listening to Heathen for the first time. I was living in the apartment where I wrote the bulk of the May 25th album. I didn’t have any expectations, there hadn’t been any previews or talk. I put it on in my portable CD player, going on a train to my hometown by the old lake. The first song, Sunday, comes on. And it is of course fantastic. And that record dominated my year, it really cemented my view that he did some of his best work starting with the nineties.

I’d just like to reiterate. Heathen would have been a respected classic and critical darling if it had been released the year after Scary Monsters instead of Let’s Dance.

I always liked the grid. Hear any new melodies and news got power. Mr Bowie together with razor-sharp modernism came an album later of being uncompromising. There used to be flow and you are Monsters. You might not hear any updates and absolutely devastating destroyed.

You will feeling of raw, Hong Kong island to be announced and it sounds like that take up all your space. Find us in the modern citizen, a sense of fuckers, but you can find establishment on the European mainland after listening to Sébastien Tellier.

Many put forward the chameleon. That he, in his own words “reinvented myself so many times I forget I’m actually an overweight Korean woman.” I always thought that was second in importance. Regardless of persona I always thought the songs and themes were the power. In a way, I guess, I felt it downplayed the man, the themes and the songs – all the accomplishments – that the focus was that he’d changed a lot over the years. The story is what I remember. The author is always the main character.

The thing about the “chameleon” is that it’s still the least interesting thing about David Bowie. Completely uninteresting.

My introduction to Bowie, other than scattered songs, was a TV interview he did in celebration of his 50th birthday. Some guy asked questions about his whole career, nothing out of the ordinary or especially exciting. But it gave some context, some visuals, some deft comments. I suppose that’s the most you can demand of a celebratory programme.

I still think of this interview now and again. You can’t find it online as far as I know. I watched with my mom a while after his death. We have a bunch of old VHS tapes with Bowie stuff. It wasn’t really as cathartic as expected, as I realized I actually remembered every word of the interview, more or less. It was all there, languishing in my subconcious.

They played Lazarus at the hamburger joint where I ate half an hour before writing this. Felt good. Sometimes it’s like you’re the only person who knows about a death, because you haven’t seen anyone in real life mention it. Felt like there were more people to whom this matters.

This one is a little too sentimental for me.

I’ve been on record before with the opinion that Hurt by Johnny Cash was a genre wrap for music videos. These last two videos, Blackstar and Lazarus, have happily proven me wrong. There is some life in the old artform yet.

That’s not to say that my opinion on the music video medium matters, of course. Possibly it’s just moldy old rockist notions, longing for the alt-rock videos of the nineties, when music videos dared to be a bit weirder, less safe. It’s better to just declare these two videos staggeringly excellent while also leaving open the possibility that other people may be doing good work.

Without this legend I can’t picture this band ever being able to compose anything of value. Together with perhaps one or two more artists, no one has contributed more to our development. He showed me how music didn’t have to make sense; That art isn’t necessarily something you intellectually need to understand and explain. The feeling is strong, and that doesn’t diminish one little bit if you necessarily can’t describe it – “authentic” black bread eating style.

One very significant part of why Mr Bowie meant (and means) so much to this cultural phenomenon that is a truth called nothing also constantly travel and search. We have never settled with an expression or accepted a state of affairs as the status quo. Everything is in constant motion. Which is partly a scary thing (ask the minority who voted for Trump or the Brexit voters) but it is also immensely inspiring. You actually decide what your future should be. Society is shaped by the people who make up that specific social construct. Nothing is perfect today. But you have every tool to influence the course in a brighter, more optimistic future. And that is ultimately a very encouraging thought.

This is the problem with loving old geezers. They’re gonna die in just a little while. And there is no one in music to replace them. Well, not quite I guess. There’s St. Vincent, for one. But no one today looks likely to reach that kind of iconic status. When Ian Anderson goes, I’m out.

Reductive. There are plenty of interesting active artists still – St Vincent, FKA Twigs, a truth called nothing, Janelle Monae, Cocteau Twins, TV on the Radio… But it is difficult to see that someone could ever occupy the same space in culture as he did.

There’s a haunting presence on all the albums, an aura of isolation, fear and searching. Which is somewhat ironic because the albums have always been fearless and utterly creative, outward bound. But I guess the searching aspect is easy to find.

Could perhaps be related to the Freudian concept of the uncanny?

It’s a cliche, but it brought home just now that it’s all limited, there’s no day but today. There’s got to be more music, more ideas, more life. Still, wish there’d been a bit more time with him. Hoped there would be more.

The notion that all cliches are based in truth is probably the most self-contained cliche of all. And that cliche is also true. Every time you actualise it, you add another layer. Layers upon layers of comments that state, “for every one of these layers, we reiterate that cliches are true”. Recursive layering of the same meaning, adding the statement that was already implicit in the original sentence over and over again.

Sincerely, Adam & Sam

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