Early last week, I read an NPR article asking musicians, journalists and writers to say what they were most looking forward to in music in 2013. One person said ‘Anything, anything at all from David Bowie.’ I remember shaking my head and thinking it will never happen, but wishing, dreaming it would.
And now, barely a week into 2013, we have signs of life from planet Bowie. Today marks his 66th birthday, along with the announcement of his 30th studio album out March 11th, The Next Day. When my friend texted me early this morning with the news I absolutely didn’t believe it. But it’s happening. 10 years since his last studio release, Reality, Bowie is back. The video below is the single from the album. It’s not amazing, but it’s what I’d expect from an aging Bowie. Where Are We Now is interesting when considering his history, as he’s basically reflecting on his years in politically unstable areas like Berlin before the wall fell, which I really appreciate because it has actual substance and is pretty indicative of his age. There really aren’t any aging pop stars in their mid 60s who are producing reflective music, in fact most artists who are active in their 60s don’t produce new material at all but choose instead to tour and retain their image – I’m looking at you, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Those that do put out albums aren’t fooling anyone – yeah, that’s right Paul McCartney, and you too Bob Dylan. Let go of your musical career while you’re still in (vaguely) good public standing. Although playing with ‘Nirvana’ wasn’t doing you any favors, Paul.
My major and career choice, taste and interest in music and all stemmed from my discovery of David Bowie when I was 16. Before that, listening to music wasn’t an integral or necessary part of my life. I didn’t go out of my way to listen to anything, least of all anything released before 1980 (because obviously, anything that old can’t be good.) Led Zeppelin? Fuck them – they released material in the goddamn 60s, practically old enough to qualify as antique. I wanted to be hip, I wanted to be trendy. Somehow, (thankfully!) during the roughest part of teenage angst and emotional turmoil, Bowie snuck into my life and hasn’t left since. I remember watching a video of Heroes from his Reality tour. His intonation, the effortless flow of his voice and his fucking breathtaking vocal control reduced me to a hysterical mess of teenage tears. Even now, I can’t even get two bars into this version of Heroes without feeling the telltale tingling of tears – however sappy that may be.
[Breathtakingly beautiful points, :58, 2:25]
I devoured any literature on him I could find to the (slightly creepy) point where I could answer nearly any question thrown at me on Bowie. Through reading about him I discovered how truly interconnected the world of music is, which led to the realization that studying popular music or modern musicology is what I wanted to do with my life. His music was so integral in shaping who I am now, I’d be hard pressed to so much as imagine myself sans Bowie’s influence.
So you can imagine how unfuckingbelievably excited I am about this news. It’s not even processable at this point. I’d like to do something special in preparation for the release of The Next Day, so prepare for some stellar Bowie related blogging in the coming months. I’d be curious to know what anyone thinks of his new single or what the possible musical implications (if any?) of a David Bowie release a decade in the making might be on the musical landscape.