David Bowie, the only hippie to successfully morph into a glam rocker, New Waver, and neo-fascist fashionista, died this week. The likelihood that he lives long past his expiration date stems from this penchant for freshness. Bowie adeptly rolled with the ch-ch-changes.
Rare among the hundreds of singers more looked at than listened to David Bowie uniquely deserves a listen or two — or two hundred. “Fame” and “Sound and Vision” feel at home in a discotheque, “Suffragette City,” “Panic in Detroit,” and “Rebel, Rebel” blare best out of a Marshall stack at an enormodome rock show, “Modern Love,” “Young Americans,” and “China Girl” naturally play before Casey Kasem rolls out the rest of the Top 40, and “Ashes to Ashes” sounds like the song you hear at a dank basement avant garde house party when you first notice your new German girlfriend’s Adam’s apple escaping the darkness. What you heard and what you saw always sounded and looked unlike what you already heard and saw.
Rob Sheffield waxed on the early-’80s era Bowie in his musical memoir Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: