skip to Main Content

Day 365 | Life on Mars

I woke up a year ago today to terrible and shocking news.  David Bowie was not simply my favorite singer- his was the only voice I heard every day for 30 years.  I never met the man and certainly didn’t know him, but Bowie was and is a big part of my life.  Many of my friends, especially from my work world, find this surprising.  I am not like and don’t aspire to be like David Bowie.  I am a fan but not a follower.  I simply like the music.  This song-a-day tribute has been my little contribution to a year of global tributes.  Hearing and reading what others have done for their parts, I learned something I probably didn’t realize- Bowie gave comfort to those who felt different.  Someone wrote, “all the weird kids liked Bowie.” That was and is me (so weird that I have a philosophical objection to the word, “kid,” but that’s another story).  It’s tough to say what was Bowie’s signature song.  “Life on Mars” is as good a candidate as any.  It seems like Bowie’s most covered song.  The “girl with the mousy hair” is sympathetic and relatable.  She’s one of the weird ones, trying to escape day to day reality through fantasy, but even that is getting old.  The song is sad but not depressing like its companion piece, “Quicksand.”  It hints at Bowie’s signature association with space, but actually has nothing to do with Mars and is more accessible because of it.  I could imagine the song coming from an earlier or later time.  These are all good reasons for this to be the final song of the tribute.

But there’s a more important reason, and that’s because Connie Hoyt asked for it to be the last song.  This project came with many surprises for me, one of which was the extent to which it seems like about 20+ people have been following it regularly.  Connie made this suggestion, but an even more fundamental suggestion came from Angela Berti.  My initial thought was to simply list a song title a day for a year.  Angela suggested Inadd a link to the songs.  I had no idea that You Tube had links to well over 365 Bowie songs, many of which were videos or concert footage (although some songs are missing- I was hoping to post Bowie’s cover of Love Missle F1 11, but couldn’t find it).  I found songs I never heard or heard of before through You Tube.  The biggest surprise came about after I posted one such song, “The King of Stamford Hill” on day 343.  It’s an early collaboration with Reeves Gabrels that I came across, liked and posted- the bigger surprise was that Reeves Gabrels commented on the post!

A few people have suggested I compile and publish this tribute.  I have been compiling it, and plan to polish it up, but don’t plan to publish it.  To begin with, there are two other similar but far better projects- Nicholas Pegg’s book, The Complete David Bowie, and a blog called “Pushing Ahead of the Dame” by Chris O’Leary.  Both are far more extensive and thorough than my little reflections.  But for me, this project was meaningful.  I commented on many of the songs I listen to again and again, wrote about what they meant to me, what they meant in the context of the day’s events, and what I thought Bowie meant by them on the first place.  This was a personal project.

I wrote every day for a year, against a backdrop of drama in my work life, the surreal presidential election, a world-class vacation to Europe and a series of celebrity deaths of which Bowie’s was the first.  In a small way, this project helped me make sense of the rest of the world.  I will miss it (I probably could go on another three months or so before running out of songs-maybe longer-but a year is a nice, finite period of time, so this, as the Doors would say, is the end).  This is not to say I will never wrote about Bowie again, but after today the mourning period ends, the project ends, and I will change my profile picture from the cover of Blackstar to a photograph of myself.  But I will continue to listen to David Bowie every day, and as much as I tell myself that I can do that like I listen to Cole Porter or Beethoven (meaning that despite the death of the artists, the music and interpretations of the music can remain fresh), I will always be a little sad that there’s no hope of another truly new album or new tour.

But another reason I am able to obsess about Bowie is that he was so prolific.  His career spanned more than half a century and he was pretty active for most of that time.  There are still songs and versions of songs I haven’t heard.  There are others I haven’t come to fully appreciate.  It wasn’t until this project that I came to like certain songs, such as “Fascination,” ” I Can’t Read,” “Underground,” and ” When I Live Amy Dream.”  So I’m not done with Bowie and probably never will be.  Yes he was alright, and the song went on forever…

Album: Hunky Dory

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top