RIP David Bowie. The Thin White Duke is gone, and only days removed from releasing his final album to (naturally) critical praise. I found out of his passing as one does in these days of instantaneous social interaction, via Twitter. Or rather, via other people's reactions on Twitter, and while i'm usually an oak when resisting the memefied tide of news bites, I was immediately saddened and joined the ranks of those remembering him through music and lyrics.
What a bummer. David Bowie was one of the most gifted and prolific songwriters of modern music; a man who would reinvent himself numerous times throughout his career, shedding the former public persona skin just as you had become accustomed to it's intricacies and odd, melodious beckoning, only to jar you with new fangled sounds and emotions and starting the cycle of falling in love with Bowie all over again. He was the musical gift that kept on giving, but was never satisfied with the gift ever being remotely the same as the previous. This is what good musicians do: challenge and reinvent while never letting go of that quintessential essence that enraptured fans to begin with.
(David Bowie at Anaheim Stadium, September 1983)
What a time it would have been to be a David Bowie fan in 1983, when he had shunned touring for some five or so years before making a huge, MTV-fueled comeback album Let's Dance. The Serious Moonlight Tour, as it was called, was the tour meant to back that comeback LP, and it ended up being his most successful run of his illustrious career.
The tour would eventually wind it's way to southern California, and while the California Angels were losing a road game to the White Sox(0-11, to be exact), David Bowie was using their home, Anaheim Stadium, to grace Orange County Bowie fans with what was probably the greatest show they've ever seen. Why wasn't I around to be there? Life is completely, totally unfair.
It was a great time be be alive, and to be a David Bowie fan. You were experiencing a resurgence of an artistic talent the likes of which this world, in my opinion, has never seen again. On top of that, you had youthful, exuberant openers Madness and The Go-Gos(on their Serious Bar-B-Que tour...here's a live rendition of "we got the beat" taken from that very concert) doing their best to get the crowd warmed up for the set of a lifetime from Mr. Space Oddity himself. I mean, look at this set list. I feel so helpless...there's nothing I can do but drool and be sad that I was only two years old at the time and therefore too young to have experienced this awesomeness.
What a night this must have been. If I could dream up a dream setlist for a Bowie gig, it'd look strikingly similar to what he and his amazing band played that night. If you were there, i'm jealous as a person could possibly be. At least there will always be the music, and we can always have a touchstone to go back to and say "THIS is what an artist is and what an artist does". There will always be the music, the movies, the writings...there will only be one David Bowie. Oh, to be a 17-20 year old and at the Big A on that September night in 1983. Under the Serious Moonlight, a meeting of two of my favorite things in this whole world: the Big A and David Bowie. RIP.