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  1. PJ
    PJ June 19, 2010 at 10:09 am |

    “And so I turn to Bowie whenever my life is changing, because he knew all about changes and knows them still. I turn to Bowie when I need to remember that the categories people want to stick you in never fit right and it’s OK to break them down and break out and break away.”

    Sarah, I’m probably almost twice your age and I still completely understand this. And I still need my own Bowies (and I have a few of them, including Bowie himself.) The point is to never stop changing.

    Thanks for the video and the lyrics too. Made my day.

  2. Alison
    Alison June 19, 2010 at 10:14 am |

    I adore Bowie to no end, and I remember as a young girl I found him fascinating because of the unusual and transgressive nature of his appearance – I thought he was beautiful and interesting, and as I got older I thought he was awesome for just doing whatever without worrying about offering explanations or fitting into one certain box.

    One quibble, though:

    Bowie’s no saint and he’s still a rich straight white guy.

    He’s bisexual, as publicly stated way back when and confirmed not long ago in this interview.

  3. Kathy
    Kathy June 19, 2010 at 10:43 am |

    “Bowie was monstrous in his day, not least because he simply cast off one identity and pulled on the next—he wore dresses, makeup, then alien skintight rockstar wear, then found soul and suits and a pompadour, then ghostly pallor—he was married to an American, then gay, then alone, then married to a Somali woman.”

    This sums it up perfectly. I came to Bowie a good decade late, after Boy George (whom I also loved) challenged gender/sexuality norms. This was pretty heady stuff for a nine-year-old, Midwestern kid.

  4. Colin
    Colin June 19, 2010 at 12:37 pm |

    I’m so glad you commented on the use of quotation marks on “Heroes.” I fly into a frustrated rage when I hear people saying that it’s some great statement of love, “because he’s saying we can be heroes!” I’m just stunned that, in the age of non-stop irony-quotation-marks for EVERYTHING, they somehow overlook the quotation marks on that song/album and what they mean (i.e., that the relationship has hit such a terrible place that staying together for one more day would be “heroic,” which of course isn’t heroic at all).

    Sorry – needed to get that off my chest, and I’m glad (though not surprised) you noted the importance of those simple grammatical marks.

  5. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin June 19, 2010 at 7:04 pm |

    I grew up in a family and in an area where David Bowie was equated with “subversive degenerate queer”. And not the acceptable reclaimed version of “queer”, either. So when I began to listen to him in my teens, I was frankly afraid of some perceived evil filth that might be pouring out of my speakers.

    Oddly enough, his music was accessible and while certainly gender-bending, spoke to me as well. As a musician, his rhythm guitar style proved accessible and influential, but his lyrics were the most powerful. I think I’ll always find the Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust period to be my favorite. In my macabre, self-pitying teens, “Rock ‘n Roll Suicide” and its first two lyrics spoke to me, but also offered hope.

  6. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve June 20, 2010 at 9:14 am |

    I first heard Rebel Rebel on 99X in New York City when I was 10 years old and I thought ‘this is rock and roll’- this is how rock and roll should sound like- normal fare for this radio station was stuff like REO Speedwagon (or EVERY morning when my Dad drove us to school- Dust in The Wind by Kansas. This should give you an idea of the era as well…turn of the 70’s to the 80’s) However in those heady days of ‘Less Talk More Rawwwwwwwk’, the DJ’s infrequent interruption caused me to not catch the name of the singer, so for a good year or so I just knew I loved this song ‘Rebel Rebel.’

    That was not to say I was completely ignorant of Dame David, due to my liberal upbringing I had unfettered access to my father’s reading material, which included his Playboy collection (to be fair- in those days- you really could read it for the articles. Either that or my Mom was just pretending to be interested in the Pentagon Papers, and really was looking at boobs and bush- I don’t like to judge.) Aaaaaanyway, I was frequently distracted from my main object of interest (the aforementioned boobs and bush,) by their music articles, and they seemed to love having pictures of Bowie in his androgynous phase, in his thin white duke phase, and in his Scary Monsters phase (which was the present day guise at the time.) I always found his look to be unbelievably attractive (not in the sense of being attracted to him, just being attracted to the look…wanting to look like that.) Now that I think about it, in the early 80’s, in my junior high in Queens, my ‘Aladdin Sane’ haircut looked not that different from my friend Ricky Footer’s mullet but I saw it as a world apart.

    So one day I was reading an interview with Bowie in Playboy and in between being freaked out by his ‘druggie’ lifestyle (I was young and innocent…) I discovered that he in fact had a song called ‘Rebel Rebel.’ Oh my god, could this guy who looks like a slip of a girl, takes coke and sleeps with men sing this ballsy rock song? Yes it could. I immediately found out everything I could about Bowie- trips into Manhattan all revolved around visits to record stores and rock memorabilia places. (I still have my Bowie Picture Discs.) However, shortly after I developed what I can only describe as a full blown obsession…TRAGEDY STRUCK…

    TRAGEDY, I tell you.

    That’s right, Bowie released an album called ‘Let’s Dance.’ Now you kids might argue that there are a few decent tunes on there, (Modern Love springs to mind,) but it was just the start of a steady decline and just the nadir of Bowie’s street cred. Saying you were a fan of David Bowie in 1983 was like saying you were a fan of Michael Jackson or Lionel Richie. Still I wore my T-shirt from the Serious Moonlight tour (he played Rebel Rebel both nights I went,) accusing people of grave ignorance when they sneered at Bowie the pop star (‘whaddya mean you never heard Bewlay Brothers? What about Panic in Detroit?’)

    Anyway, Let’s Dance actually seems quite listenable compared to the raft of rubbish he released in the following years, (I gave up trying to listen after the first Tin Machine album,) but I always will feel like I was cheated out of true Bowie fandom because, like Miniver Cheevy, I was born too late.

  7. M
    M June 20, 2010 at 11:02 am |

    Apropo taking “Heroes”, sans quotation marks, at face value.

    The National Review considers it the 21st greatest conservative rock song ever:

    1. Cara
      Cara June 20, 2010 at 11:06 am |

      Bwahaha, M, a great portion of that list is a lesson in missing the point. Thank you for sharing, I got a good laugh. :)

  8. Katy
    Katy June 20, 2010 at 11:40 am |

    Love David Bowie! He also wrote a song addressing domestic violence – “Repetition” from his Lodger album.

  9. Lauren
    Lauren June 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm | *

    Love Bowie. Love Mark Bolan, too.

    Great post.

  10. Leslie
    Leslie June 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm |

    ”Seize the Day” inspired by DB, performed by Ultraviolet Eye

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