The curious collection of a slightly mad scientist
NEW YORK — David Bowie, the innovative and iconic singer whose illustrious career lasted five decades with hits like “Fame,” ”Heroes” and “Let’s Dance,” died Sunday after a battle with cancer. He was 69.
Representative Steve Martin said early Monday that Bowie died “peacefully” and was surrounded by family. The singer had battled cancer for 18 months.
“While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief,” the statement read. No more details were provided.
Bowie turned 69 on Friday, the same day he released a new album called “Blackstar.”
Bowie, who was born David Jones, came of age in the glam rock era of the early 1970s. He had a striking androgynous look in his early days and was known for changing his looks and sounds. The stuttering rock sound of “Changes” gave way to the disco soul of “Young Americans,” co-written with John Lennon, to a droning collaboration with Brian Eno in Berlin that produced “Heroes.”
He had some of his biggest successes in the early 1980s with the stylist “Let’s Dance,” and a massive American tour.
“My entire career, I’ve only really worked with the same subject matter,” Bowie said in a 2002 interview with The Associated Press. “The trousers may change, but the actual words and subjects I’ve always chosen to write with are things to do with isolation, abandonment, fear and anxiety — all of the high points of one’s life.”His performance of “Heroes” was a highlight of a concert for rescue workers after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks.
“What I’m most proud of is that I can’t help but notice that I’ve affected the vocabulary of pop music. For me, frankly, as an artist, that’s the most satisfying thing for the ego.”
Bowie kept a low profile in recent years after reportedly suffering a heart attack in the 2000s. He made a moody album three years ago called “The Next Day” — his first recording in a decade which was made in secret in New York City. “Blackstar,” which earned positive reviews from critics, represented yet another stylistic shift, as he gathered jazz players to join him.
I’m very sad to read this. I share a birthday with David Bowie and have always enjoyed his creative spark, from his albums to his quirky movies. The day he died, I was as sick as I ever remember being, throwing up all day in a Mexican casita. I’ll miss knowing that he’s out there, that he could create some new cool thing at any time and surprise us again.
In his last album, the title track is haunting and scary. “In the Villa of Ormen, is a solitary candle, at the center of it all.”
‘Ormen’ is the plural of ‘Orm’ which means worm, grub, or maggot. ( per en.wiktionary.org/wiki/orm). What makes this hauntingly powerful and beautiful for me is that I think Bowie is speaking of the aging human body as a village of decay (his cancer, the fact that most cells in the human body are bacteria, entropy, etc.). The solitary candle is life, at the center of it all… until the day of execution. At first the drums bothered me, but now I feel they fit. The drums are like a tense failing erratic heart beat. The dance seems to include spasms the body might make right before death. The images remind me at times of his part in The Hunger, where horrific decay was portrayed amid the immortal beauty of vampires. Bowie was looking at death from the point of view of the one experiencing it, the reality, not a vampire fantasy. A black star is still there, we can feel the gravity from it, but there is no more light. It is done shining. He was telling us what to expect as we get closer, and I think he was showing that we can still make art of the otherwise dark experience of passing, since there is (as yet) no escape from old age.