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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bowie and the Short Life of Rock and Roll

Now that the New York Times has quit featuring David Bowie on the front page I can think of what it all means. Like most people I knew Bowie as the androgynous rocker of the seventies and eighties. Cha Cha Changes. Rebel Rebel. Suffergette City. Many many nights spent with overheated amplifiers cranking out Ziggy Stardust in crappy college apartments. I remember the summer I discovered Ziggy and played it over and over on hazy long warm evenings  And then I saw him at U of I on the Lets Dance Tour. And then he disappeared.

Scary Monsters was my reconnection and then he disappeared again. And the word was Bowie the millionaire was living in Switzerland with his super model wife and then he surfaced with Tin Machine that nobody really cared about. He really belonged to the era of Art Rock although people would say he transcended all that. Oh right Under Pressure. He came back for that and everyone listened to Freddie and David belt it out. Then he was gone again.

And then the shock of his death. Bowie was a great rocker and artist but rock and roll as an art form seems to have a very short life. If it really is the flag of youth then it is really all over by thirty. And listening to David Bowie now seems like trying to go back to high school. When you were there it meant something but now it means nothing at all. I know someone who saw his Lazarus musical and he said it made absolutely no sense.

That is fitting. You can't pick your art form but Bowie said it best. "Look out you rock and rollers, one day your gonna get older."

Books by William Hazelgrove