Notes
First thoughts, running arguments, stories in progress

The world is still reeling from the loss of the legendary artist. Yesterday, Matt covered the details of Bowie’s death, Spencer paid tribute, Krishnadev noted a historical performance at the Berlin Wall, a reader ran though many of his favorite songs, and Gillian even touched on Bowie’s foray into asset-backed securities—as if his array of artistic talents wasn’t enough. This reader, like so many others, was “shocked when I heard about Bowie’s death”:

There are some artists so iconic that you can't imagine them not being there anymore. I am always in awe of the creativity of the most talented musicians, and creativity just flowed out of Bowie. All of his personas, stories, and styles were pulled off so well. So many musicians can be a master of one style or rest on their tried and true formula, but Bowie never seemed content to repeat past successes.

Another reader and fan:

During the past year, my appreciation of Bowie has grown a lot. Nobody else in rock was able to create stuff of tremendous quality spanning such a long period of time. By 1980, all the monster rock stars were out of gas (Beatles, Stones, the Who, Dylan, etc). Only Bowie had what it took to bridge the gap and survive into the New Wave of the 1980s and make fantastic albums into the 1990s.

This reader recognizes how Bowie was a pioneer in another big way:

His androgynous stage presence broke the ground for so many acts that followed and helped ease the fears of homosexuality. Without Bowie opening the door, I wonder how long it would have taken to sway attitudes to where we are today.

Another reader:

Adjectives like “genius” and “edgy” are overused. We use them now to describe Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus—pop princesses who mostly perform other people’s songs with the help of auto-tune. In the case of David Bowie—especially during his 1969-1977 creative peak—those words applied. He was that rare thing, an original who could effortlessly slide in and out of various musical genres and personas. Don’t think we’ll see his like again.

Another reader looks beyond Bowie’s musical talents: “ I think he was underrated as an actor. He was so creepily irresistible in Labyrinth.”

Another reader points to “the great, great film, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Bowie’s best film and his best, most substantially enacted role, which is again and again overlooked”:

A reader in denial:

I keep wishing this was a stunt, that “Lazarus” will rise from the grave
and give us a stunning spectacle. It’s unreal how well curated his
death was. The hardest part about losing a guy like Bowie is knowing he’s a once-in-a-generation person. There will be others, but they’ll belong to someone else, some other time’s voice, who will speak the needs of a people on the bleeding edge of time. I’m so jealous of them, and so heartbroken for us.

Another reader points to a “haunting eulogy by the Flaming Lips … while it always haunted me, this morning I find it boring straight into my core”:

Take your golden tooth, try to throw it to the moon
Take your mouth and scream whistle wasted in your dreams
Take your eyes and leave, one for love and one for me
Take your ears, they must be filled with tons of meteoric dust

At the mountain you scream, now the fountain reveals
Has filled you up and made you whole
Goodbye, goodbye...

Take your legs and run into the death-rays of the sun...

Last week, before Bowie’s death, Spencer reviewed his new album, Blackstar. A reader wondered:

I can name on one hand the number of rock/pop musicians who are still making challenging music decades after they first appeared. But I’m curious how the album is going to do. I’ve listened to Blackstar and it’s not an easy listen. You have to be willing to immerse yourself and tune out all other distractions.

Another reader was more direct:

So far, if I were to compare Blackstar side-by-side with, say, Low or Space Oddity, I’d be at a loss. The album just came out today, and I’ve listened twice today already, so maybe tomorrow I’ll listen again and like it more? But, really, it all sounds kinda vague and distant. Why is his voice like that? It’s like he’s in some other room, rather than right here next to me (which is how he was with EVERY record up to the 1980s!)

Overall, weird Bowie album. Not his best and not enthralling. Like. Bowie. Should. Be.

But a reader yesterday wrote:

Now with Bowie’s passing ... we know it’s about him. It’s a reflection of his life, a self realization of his own mortality.

One more reader:

I thought Freddie Mercury’s haunting versions of “Show Must Go On” and “Who Wants to Live Forever,” recorded when HE knew he was dying but no one else did, would rank as the Greatest Final Act in rock history. But Bowie was Bowie, and it figures he’d go out as a supernova rather than a snuffed candle.

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