“Bowie has become known as a musical chameleon, changing and dictating trends as much as he has altered his style to fit, influencing fashion and pop culture.” -Brad Filicky (10 June 2002)
Few people can claim to have pioneered in punk and glam rock as well as put their own spin on soul, blues, funk, folk, and psychedelia. Probably one of the most complex characters in music, Bowie was constantly reinventing himself to keep from being defined. Lyrically, his songs are provocative, making the listener question themselves, society, and even life itself. What other person would write a song starting with “I’m an alligator, I’m a mama-poppa coming for you,” and yet leaves you questioning everything you thought you knew about society, humanity, and life itself? By dabbling in so many genres, Bowie has become an influence to artists in a myriad of genres. David Bowie truly is an anomaly.
While there will never again be another David Bowie, there is a lesson that others could learn from him. We live in an era where everyone is expected to follow a specific code – to conform to the status quo for fear of judgement. Why is it that when you meet someone for the first time, one of the most common questions is, “What do you do for a living?” or “Where do you plan on going to school?”. People judge others based on what they do, therefore we fear straying from what is considered “respectable” or “appropriate”. David Bowie dared to challenge what was considered the norm many times over, and yet he was successful. It’s possible to do what others may think is bizarre or absurd and still be successful in life. If David Bowie can achieve success by painting lightning bolts on his face, dying his mullet bright red, wearing ludicrous costumes, and making great music, then why can’t anyone make a living by following their dreams, even if it is a bit unconventional?
Now, for those of you who may not have gotten the references in the title, “oddity”, “rebel”, and “space invader” are all quotes pulled from some of Bowie’s songs. Here they are respectively:
One of Bowie’s earlier songs, released in 1969 nine days before Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The man has good timing.
From the album “Diamond Dogs”, Rebel Rebel is one of the ultimate, well, rebellious songs of youths in the early seventies (or so I’ve heard). I’m still disappointed that the band I had in freshman year of high school voted against playing it at our gigs (how were we supposed to be a rock band without a bit of a rebellious streak?)
From the legendary album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (and I suppose Gaurdians of the Galaxy too, but it was cool before then) the heavily distorted chords in the intro to Moonage Daydream are iconic rock and roll. Add some wacky lyrics about alligators, space invaders, and electric eyes and you’ve got ultimate Bowie.
Here’s a few other great examples of Bowie experimenting with different genres of music. Out of every he’s done, there’s just about something for everyone.
Inspired by a day-long jam session with John Lennon.
Don’t let me hear you say life’s taking you nowhere.
A classic tale of East meets West.
Featuring Stevie Ray Vaughn (one of my all time favorite guitarists).
Never gonna fall for-
And of course, his famous duet with Freddie Mercury (no, it’s not Ice Ice Baby).
(Image by Helen Green, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/15/helen-green_n_6473496.html)
It doesn’t matter how different we are. We’re all weird, what separates the amazing people from the ordinary ones is that the amazing ones use their weirdness to their advantage.