By Michael Casey
IT all started in April 1972. David Bowie was playing at the Harlow Playhouse. The tickets were 25 pence. My brother Gerard went but I was only ten, so I stayed at home.
To me, it was the guy who had a hit a lifetime ago in 1969 so I didn’t think too much about it.
The concert came a few months after the release of Hunky Dory that met with critical acclaim but few sales. He had just launched a new single called Starman which again, was not setting the world on fire.
But something must have piqued my interest. There was an appearance on The Old Grey Whistle Test and then, a few months later, there was that appearance on Top of the Pops singing Starman. And yes, I went to Holy Cross Primary next day and asked "Hey, that’s far out, you saw him too?"..Well. something like that…
From that point I was hooked. It really was all about the changes. But each year at school at St Marks was marked from Aladdin Sane until Scary Monsters.
I can recall discussing the merits of Velvet Goldmine as a B-side with school friend Nick Kamen, my sister Eny buying me Low for my birthday and just staring at the orange glow of the cover; borrowing Stephen Bostock’s copy of Stage and taken an eternity to give it back (sorry Steve)
I loved Drive In Saturday, 1984, Fame, Station to Station, A New Career in a New Town, V2 Schneider, Fantastic Voyage, Teenage Wildlife etc.
I don’t think it was soundtrack for my school days. It was just good music made by a real craftsman. David Bowie wrote great songs.
There was also a palpable sense that this was someone who was in for the long haul and whilst others came and went, David Bowie was here for a lifetime.
And there was a message in there. It was about change, it was about being brave enough to try new things, it was about "loving to travel and hating to arrive."
And like any tribal instinct, life seemed to be divided into two types: You looked on side 2 of Low with horror or you looked on it as a fascinating new addition to his canon of work. Ot just a man at work, trying something different.
My first piece of bonding at university was with Clive Mayhew, who is still a good friend to this day, where, in the students union, we argued on the merits of Lodger. I still don’t think Move On was all that but there we are.
As the eighties rolled by, he became mainstream and I remember seeing him at Milton Keynes Bowl in 1983, thinking "This is all very safe."
But I never lost the faith. I liked Loving the Alien and Day In/Day Out but realised that there was a creative nadir going on here.
But I could see what he was doing with Tin Machine. Have a listen to Goodby Mr Ed or Bus Stop.
I always felt that Black Tie, White Noise did not get the critical credit it deserved as well as Buddha of Suburbia. But it was good to see him back recording good music.
I felt Outside was a joy to behold and it was great to see a man approaching fifty full of ideas and invention. Especially, with songs being downloaded such as Telling Lies. The Outside tour was a very good concert.
As a Bowie completist, it was always great to travel the world and pick up Tin Machine 2 in Bend, Oregon, The David Bowie Songbook in Tokyo (Over The Wall anyone?) or a Slowburn CD single at Harvard.
I loved the resurgence in the early 2000’s. The Bowie at the Beeb sessions, Heathen and even "Chubby Little Man" on Extras! Oh and "youtube" the Toy sessions.
When I saw Bowie in 2004 on the Reality Tour, it was such a great combination between his new album (so-so) and great re-workings of the hits. And as the years rolled on, I thought that he had left a great canon of work and so I was content if he never recorded again.
We welcomed The Next Day as a treat and if you heard the eleven minute remix of Love is Lost, you felt encouraged that he was more inclined to the avant-garde still.
And that is why Blackstar was also such a joy. And that is why the final song: "I Can’t Give Everything Away" is so poignant. David waves goodbye.
I am not inclined to read too much into Bowie’s lyrics. Did Lazarus mean this? Did Backstar mean that? Probably not? Listen I am still trying to figure out what: "David what can I do they wait for men in the hallways. Don’t take me I don’t know any hallways" means?
So, farewell David Robert Jones. David Bowie will live on forever.
And if there was ever a lyric that was ironic then it was: "I never did good things, I never did bad things, I never did anything out of the blue…………."
If you want to pay tribute to his memory, dare to be different.
And like any typical middle aged bloke in their man cave, masquerading as an office, here is each album and my favourite song.
David Bowie: Love You Til Tuesday
Space Oddity: Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud
Man Who Sold The World: Conversation Pice
Hunky Dory: The Bewlay Bros.
Ziggy Stardust: Five Years
Aladdin Sane: Drive In Saturday
Diamond Dogs: Sweet Thing
Young Americans: Young Americans
Station to Station: Station to Station
Low: A New Career in a New Town
Lodger: Fantastic Voyage
Scary Monsters: Teenage Wildlife
Lets Dance: Let’s Dance
Tonight: Loving the Alien
Never Let Me Down: Day In Day Out
Tin Machine: Bus Stop
Tin Machine 2: Goodbye Mr Ed
Black Tie/White Noise: Jump They Say
Outside: Through These Architects Eyes
Earthling: I’m Afraid of Americans
Hours: Thursdays Child
Heathen: Everybody Says Hi
Reality: New Killer Star
The Next Day: The Stars are Out Tonight