David Bowie

David Bowie 2004
David Bowie 2004 (Photo credit: markjeremy via Flickr)

Obviously, this needs updating… –MC

David Bowie (1947 -) is a British musician, record producer, arranger, actor and visual artist. Originally David Jones, apparently he changed his surname to avoid confusion with the popular Monkee of the time, Davey Jones.

Most would agree that Bowie is in a rare league of iconic rockers, including the likes of Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Madonna and Elton John.

His best music synthesizes existing idioms to create something fresh and often exploratory. And because of his considerable talent, his musical explorations rarely go off the grid.

Bowie the philosopher, if you like, also takes us to new dimensions often passed over by status quo thinkers. His song “Starman” (1972) ponders the idea of extraterrestrial life and its potential impact on humanity.

There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds

There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile

And in “Loving the Alien” (1984) he sings:

Believing the strangest things
loving the alien…

Meanwhile, Black Tie White Noise (1993) looks to the meeting of spirit and the body, a topic that sometimes scares away so-called intellectuals who think they’re smart but really are quite narrow-minded:

Where the flesh meets
the spirit world
Where the traffic is thin…
You’ve been around
but you’ve changed me

In Bowie’s heyday the press often depicted him as “going away” from this world into some kind of creative journey and then “returning” whenever he produced a hit single.

There might be some psychological truth to this, as found in “Little Wonder” (1997):

Enter Galactic, see me to be you
It’s all in the tablets, Sneezy Bhutan
Little wonder then, little wonder
You little wonder, little wonder you…
Sending me so far away,
so far away…

Not unlike the Hindu Shiva-Shakti dyad, Bowie plunged into cross-dressing before this was considered chic in the music industry.

Cover of
Cover of Sound + Vision

But there’s more to Bowie than meets the eye. Connecting him to religion and spirituality is far from spurious, considering his interest in parapsychology, as found in “Sound and Vision” (1977):

Don’t you wonder sometimes
‘Bout sound and vision…
I will sit right down,
Waiting for the gift of sound and vision

Within Asian systems paranormal abilities are known as siddhis, and in Catholic mysticism those which come from God are called called interior locutions, insights, perceptions and private revelations.

Bowie himself, however, is often critical of organized religion, as expressed in this chant from The Buddha of Suburbia (1993), released several years before the Catholic sex-abuse lawsuits hit the media:

Sex and the church
Sex and the church
Sex and the church
And the church
And the church

Bowie might someday be regarded not just as a musician but as a visionary or futurist. Considering the looming global water crisis the following scenario from “Looking for Water” (2003) doesn’t seem too far off:

Silver leaves are spinning round
Take my hand as we
go down and down
and down
Looking for water…

I’m looking for water
Looking for water
(Looking looking)
I’m looking for water
Looking for water…

The musician/visionary combination is not unheard of. Both Pythagoras and the legendary Orpheus combined music, philosophy and spirituality.

Pythagoras linked musical harmony to cosmic order, while Orpheus used his lyre to wrest his wife Eurydice from the underworld lord of death, Cerberus. But like Lot’s wife, and against a dire warning not to look back while escaping, Orpheus foolishly cast a glance backward, losing Eurydice forever.

This story speaks to the wisdom of accepting and trusting in the future, an idea summed up in Bowie’s tune, “Changes” (1971):

Turn and face the strange
ch ch changes…
time may change me
but I can’t trace time

Bowie has also ventured into acting and composing soundtracks for film and video games. For some time he hosted a lively, free internet forum called “Discourse” at davidbowie.com, which now charges membership fees.

Although criticized for being cheap when it comes to charity, Bowie replies

I can never make my mind up, I’m so f***ing flippy floppy. I can see both sides of everything and it’s really awful. Source » “DAVID BOWIE – BOWIE’S CHARITY STRUGGLES” at contactmusic.com

David Bowie & Band @ Area2 Festival
David Bowie & Band @ Area2 Festival (Photo credit: markjeremy)

Cheap or not, for his considerable import as an artist he was awarded the 2008 Andromeda Award at earthpages.org.

Around 2004 Bowie suffered a heart attack and underwent emergency surgery. Since then he’s understandably kept a low profile, appearing here and there, and endorsing his son’s 2009 “Moon” movie.

All that changed when on his 66th birthday he released a new album, The Next Day (2013). Keeping true to form, one of his videos for the record upset the Catholic League. And so far it’s the fastest-selling album of 2013.

Other interesting things about Bowie:

  • he was offered but declined a knighthood
  • his actual religious views remain somewhat mysterious
  • he just wants to make records now (and not give concerts)
  • he’s apparently vowed never to do public interviews again

Earthpages.org’s Very First 2008 Andromeda Award!

Related Posts » Nineteen Eighty-Four


What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.