Karen: David Bowie, the artist who had perfected the ability to transform himself and his music in strange and unpredictable ways, is gone. It almost seems impossible -is it another metamorphosis? -but no, even he could not find a way to mutate and change to avoid death. And yet even though he was struck down by cancer, he utilized the knowledge of his impending death to craft his last album, Blackstar, which was just released, mere days before his passing. It seems so calculated and so completely Bowie.
Karen: He was always an artist in complete control, quite aware of what he wanted and unafraid to take risks and try new things. "Try new things" -that's putting it mildly. He would race from one style of music to the next, not as a lark, but as a sincere student/admirer, immersing himself fully and working at his craft until he mastered it. The term genius is thrown around perhaps too casually but the man deserves to be called that, and a large part of 'genius' is putting in the work.
Karen: You can't separate Bowie from the stage personas he created and in some ways, he always seemed like an actor playing a part; he was always a little distant. Did we ever really know the man or were we always seeing some carefully crafted creation? I think there were times the man was glimpsed and certainly the themes found in his songs -of alienation, longing, striving -gave us some small access to him.
Doug: About the only things I can add, that wouldn't simply duplicate some of Karen's thoughts, are two distinct memories of Bowie from my childhood. The first was the initial time I laid eyes on Bowie, which was also my introduction to his androgyny - it was somewhat alarming to young Doug. But just a few years later, there he was singing "Little Drummer Boy" with Bing Crosby, looking normal. But as Karen has remarked, that was part of the chameleon nature of David Bowie.
Karen: He leaves us his songs which is a huge gift. So much to listen to, to enjoy and to ponder. His lyrics typically offer a lot of room for interpretation. I've been listening to "The Bewlay Brothers" (below) for years and I go back and forth on what I think it means.
Karen: I haven't listened to Blackstar yet. I don't think I'll be ready to for a while. But I have been listening to some of my favorite Bowie songs today, and I am posting a few below.