David Bowie’s first album came out in 1967, when I was just a year old. His final album was released three days ago. During the intervening 48 years, David Bowie put a steady stream of brave, bold, intelligent and fantastic music into the world, always living on the cutting edge, always evolving as an artist.
With each new decade, and each new incarnation, Bowie’s music imprinted itself on the soundtrack of my own life – providing insight, inspiration and commentary to whatever I happened to be experiencing at the time. The number of musicians who have impacted me in this manner can probably be counted on one hand. I didn’t love all of Bowie’s output, but I always listened – he made music that was worth listening to.
Just last week, I wrote a piece on this page about Bowie’s latest creation, Blackstar, a record that once again defies any attempt at categorization, and challenges our notions of who David Bowie is. I have been listening obsessively to Blackstar since I wrote that piece. Who could know that Bowie designed this record as a parting gift, as a secret that would only be fully revealed with his passing on Sunday. His longtime producer Tony Visconti put it best when he said “Bowie’s death was no different from his life — a work of Art.”
For me, Bowie’s departure leaves a gaping hole in the world of music – an uncalculable loss. How can there be a world without David Bowie? He really did seem like some kind of alien, an energy force to whom the rules of life and death did not apply. Undoubtedly, Music will move on, but my heart breaks to let go of this man who has spoken to me, taught me, inspired me and given me great joy for practically my whole life. I know I’m not the only person who feels this way.
Godspeed, Major Tom – one can only imagine your next cosmic destination.
One of the ways I’ve remained inspired is that I’ve never stopped being a student – not only in terms of improving my technical abilities, but also as far as studying the history and tradition of drumming.
We always hear talk about New Orleans being such a great music town. Well, here’s a perfect example of WHY. Imagine living in a city where you can walk out your door every day and find this kind of a jam underway. And imagine if that jam was open to ANYONE who showed up with an instrument.
Hosted by singer and trombonist supreme Glen David Andrews, this particular jam incorporates Mardi Gras Indian chants, brass band second line, drum set, and electric guitar. Like New Orleans itself, it represents how musical barriers are meaningless when people come together, find common musical ground and play WITH one another. It’s not pretty, it’s not slick, it’s not organized, but it s damn sure REAL. Jams like this have been going on in N’Awlins for literally two hundred years or more (going back to the slave “ring shouts” in Congo Square)!
The young man in the foreground playing the marching snare can’t yet be ten years of age, but he is “in it” as deep as anyone esle – getting a serious lesson in groove, funk and a spirit of musical community that can’t be taught in school band, private lessons or any other “formal” setting. Without a doubt, he and his peers will grow up to fuse all these influences and produce a new generation of badassery to emerge from this one of a kind city. Just as so many others have for so many generations.
If you are a lover of music, do NOT leave this planet before spending some time in the Crescent City!