Our kids might never know a David Bowie
My poor son. It was his 14th birthday on Monday, and as I served him these bad boy pancakes for his birthday, I was also weeping as the radio news announced that David Bowie had died of cancer. Apart from one or two tracks that I love, and Bowie’s little known Letter to Hermione that my college friends heard me trot out whenever we had a sing song, I wasn’t a massive fan.
What I loved about David Bowie though was his sheer audacity. He managed to outrage and think forward at the same time. He knew nonsense when he saw it. Remember all the cr*p we were fed growing up in the 80s and 90s about sexuality? He challenged it beautifully, not through protest but through lyrics that made you question stuff. Or through his look that always slipped away from the norms of the day, but drew you in through its use of colour, light and pattern. In a world of Lady Di and Duran Duran, he was from Mars. Like so many, I adored that.
David Bowie came from Brixton in South London where I was born, and he just went for it, like Brian Eno – his great collaborator – who was the son of a postman. It was a time for us working class kids to embrace art, philosophy, literature, and drink in madly brilliant lyrics. It felt like our time had come and Mr. Bowie was our Pied Piper.
Will our kids ever know the same? Will they even listen to any of his music? I doubt it. Some of the grime and hiphop my sons listen too passes some sublime poetry beneath its radar, and lyricists like Prince Charles have much going for them, but I do worry about where the next generation’s Bowie is. Or is western culture so wonderful we don’t need another Bowie to move on our thinking? Or am I just a fogey who doesn’t know what’s out there? All, I fear, could apply.
If your kid do get curious about David Bowie and asks you for a break down of the albums, my colleague’s done this research outlining almost all of the tracks.