David Bowie (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016)
He was a total original, part of the vanguard of the synthesiser revolution, a singer-songwriter of genius, an innovative producer and arranger (e.g. Transformer), a rather odd but always compelling actor (he is appropriately weird in The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Hunger), and, in the best sense of the term, a trend-setter.
From avant-garde to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, through Young Americans, the Berlin trilogy of Low, “Heroes” and Lodger, and Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), he mesmerised with his masterful changes of style, change of persona, angelic voice and the sheer exhilaration in his art.
Despite the exotic, varnished outer shell, the immersion in drugs and flirtations with various ‘isms’, one senses that he retained the basic common sense of David Jones from Brixton, about the only man brave enough to level with drug fiend Lou Reed, telling him ‘to clean up his act’, the gesture of true friendship that he was immediately made to regret.
The Varnished Culture’s all-time favourite Bowie songs are:
Always Crashing in the Same Car
Ashes to Ashes
Boys Keep Swinging
The Jean Genie
John, I’m only dancing
Life on Mars?
The Man Who Sold the World
Oh! You Pretty Things
Rock & Roll Suicide
The Varnished Culture went to the best pub (The Leicester) – got a little drunk and listened to the man – went home and played more Bowie into the night – and a friend asked whether we had heard Lazarus – we now have and it sounds like classic res gestae – a dying declaration by a true Giant – what a guy!