Monday, January 11, 2016

Nothing has changed.

hello there

in no way whatsoever, look you see, did i imagine that much of my monday morning would mimic, if not replicate, my friday just gone by. sorry, that sounds like a very millennial "me, me, me" introduction, but it's the only one i've got.

when Derek Bowie released the Nothing has changed set two or so years ago, i didn't buy it, as is probably referenced here. i didn't buy it in either its 1, 2 or 3 CD variations as i had diligently bought each and every other such "best of" set he had elected to issue. i, perhaps understandably and i would imagine as many others did, had a significant change of heart today, so off to HMV i went.

what was it like in HMV today? as it should be. the display they had in place on friday for the release of Derek Bowie's Blackstar album was in place, as was the collection of selections of his other recordings. all that one heard in the store was the music of Derek Bowie. indeed, nothing had changed in respect of the pricing; as you can see offers that existed on friday existed today.

why refer to him as Derek Bowie? because that's what Stephen Fry called him in the poetry competition sketch off of A Bit Of Fry And Laurie. that remains the funniest thing i have seen and heard Mr Fry and Mr Laurie do, so it's always stuck with me.

i'm not sure that there is much i can say that hasn't been written thousands of times over during the course of the day today. i would expect everything is covered - from Sky News banging on about  The Laughing Gnome and assuming that Absolute Beginners was his film debut, through people saying that the passing of David Jones means no Monkees reunion, to good old Tony Parsons reliably announcing that David Bowie was more important than Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who and the imaginary band off of the Tom Hanks film That Thing You Do! rolled into one and divided by a thousand. just what is it that i could add?

when i duly bought and played Blackstar, i had no idea at all that he had recorded it as a farewell to those of us who had loved his music and taken so much from it over the years. the cryptic, hidden messages within it are, of course, no longer cryptic and no longer hidden.

i am reminded of the story of how, when he knew death was close, Warren Zevon spent some of his final time with us here on the planet recording a cover of Knocking On Heaven's Door. his family and friends suggested, i am led to believe, that this was maybe not such a good idea. "if not now, then when" is what legend has it as his reply. i kind of hope that story is true. i can't help but think that the approach to a final recording Derek Bowie took was somewhat more subtle than Warren Zevon. and yet the genius of their career remains very much in the grace of their parting gift.

would i have listened to, or reviewed, Blackstar differently if i knew that it was to be his last record, and that he would no longer be with us some 50 or so hours after i played it for the first time? of course, all of us and everyone would, bar maybe the dozen or so people who knew his intention with the record.

at the time Nothing has changed got released it would have been, going on the information released, around the point at which Bowie got the news that he was to embark on a fight against cancer, and it was a fight that he could not win. i, along with everyone else i would expect, had assumed that the title was a reference to Changes, be it as both the song itself and the fact that one of his more celebrated "best of" sets was called Changes. maybe it's reading too much into it, i don't know, but i now cannot help get the sense that the name of the record had quite a different meaning, in particular with regards to the only other text inside the booklet that does not relate to details of a song.

when asked about an autobiography, or even an "official biography", Bowie's response was to suggest that people who wanted that should just go and look through the many unofficial ones about him, find the one that they found to be the most interesting and assume that it was correct. by the same margin, when he appeared on that VH1 Storytellers thing, he quite remarkably got away with telling stories only about other people and revealed next to nothing about himself, bar a tale of wee wees in a sink in a workingmen's club.

anything he ever wanted to say about his life, or share, he did in his music and his selection of acting roles. man, my word, did he say a lot. to me, to many, many millions, over many years.

i would consider myself very fortunate indeed to have, over the years, had so many friends that tolerated me bombarding them with tapes (and later CDs) i had created of music which i considered to be "class", with more than a few of them featuring Bowie. if a few of those friends, either those who i see still to this day or those that have drifted out of my life, liked what they heard, then so much the better.

over the days and weeks, and months, to come, acres of text will be produced about (go on, let's use the proper name) David Bowie. it will be of how he influenced musicians over the last four decades, how he will continue to influence musicians over the next four decades. how every genre of music owes him thanks, either directly for the style or more covertly for the influence and inspiration. how he championed and ensured that some musicians got the stage he felt they both deserved and earned. how, basically, what he did was so loved and fondly thought of.

me? nothing has changed sums it up. his music has been a significant part of the soundtrack of my life for however many years, may it be the case that i have quite a few more years yet to say the same is true. he was able to spend his last days with his family and doing the thing that he loved doing for so many years, right to the end. give that option to anyone, for life always only has one conclusion, and they would take it. 

do be very excellent to each other.

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