Waiting for the Gift of Sound & Vision

Very apropos for the Daily Prompt– What role does music play in your life?

If you’ve read any of my other posts, especially the earlier ones, you’ll have noticed I’m big on music. Prior to turning 14, I just listened to music. Whatever was playing on a rock station suited me well at the time. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t like country music – other than that, I listened…had some albums and 8-track tapes, the typical stuff. I didn’t come from a musical family and listening was not a priority in our household.

Then I met Karen and she introduced me to David Bowie. It changed how I felt about music. It opened my eyes to the power of music. Really, it opened up my mind -I had an epiphany.

Honestly, this is not just about Bowie – and I’m perfectly aware that a lot of people hate his music – about that, I don’t care. Like I said, it’s not only about Bowie – it’s about the power of art to change your focus in life.  For me it was Bowie – for you? It could be anyone.

There was one other person I shared a good portion of my high school years with besides Karen. Annie is also rabid about Bowie – and for many of the same reasons. She recently responded to a friend’s question about her ‘deal with Bowie’ in a succinct letter.  I want to share this because I love it and feel that it touches on something that I’ve continued to feel about Bowie and music in general.

I wish everyone had an experience like this with music/art/literature…

A friend asked me to explain my deal about why Bowie is so important. So this is what I emailed him and I thought you might enjoy, as you two are two of the three peeps I mention feel as strongly:

Hmm. Hard to explain what Bowie means to me, and it’s not going to be short, but I do know three other people who feel exactly as I do. Which is hard to believe because no one could possibly feel as deeply for this man’s music as I do, except that I’ve seen them react to it and turn to it for every kind of life celebration, sadness, healing and boredom, as I do. He is nourishment. Water when you are thirsty. His albums vary so much in style, complexity, mood…His songs are songs within songs within songs, often. His melodies are not often intuitive. They take work. They don’t go where you expect them to go. They are like complex sugars. You can eat a candy bar. You’ll soar and then crash. Or you can eat a piece of fruit and the sugars will break down over a period of time, nourishing your body and lifting your spirits. Bowie is like that.

I remember the very first time I heard ‘Sound and Vision’ I nearly cried. I couldn’t imagine having lived the previous 16 years without that song. It was sickening to think about it. I always feel thankful to my friend, Karen when I hear that song because I remember how excited she was to have me hear it for the first time. She played it for me. She knew.

Half the songs I love by Bowie I loved right away. The other half is most of my favorites and I did not like them until I’d listened to them three times. By then the patterns had woven into my brain well enough that I could follow the rest of the songs’ complexities or moods. There is one song that my friend and I call the ‘orgasm song.’ That’s just a silly side note.

When there was new-to-me Bowie, it was the time of records and tapes. I mostly have him on vinyl. I had to hunt down the hard to find stuff and it was all amazing. Songs traveled with me all day. I breathed it, slept it. I’d place my big speakers a foot and a half apart and lay my head between them until I could feel things actually vibrate and adjust to different positions inside my head. I know a 14 year old who is just discovering old Bowie tunes and she is like I was. I am so envious that she still has them to discover. So exciting.

And now, he is still my emotional food for any occasion, celebratory, solace-needy and otherwise.

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About Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher

I'm a research librarian for Public Television, story teller, bike commuter, baker, music fiend, lover of reading & books, mother, wife, friend - and many more descriptive adjectives and nouns.
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71 Responses to Waiting for the Gift of Sound & Vision

  1. Pingback: A Poetic Duet With JaneyBGood – “Murdering It On Karaoke Night” | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

  2. I have read this before; though I don’t know why I didn’t comment…perhaps I went off to listen to Sound and Vision; one of my favourites; I remember being round my mate’s house when we were 14 or 15, come back from drinking in the park, raid his mother’s cigarette packet (being sure to rearrange them so she wouldn’t notice!) and then putting on the Singles Collection…Disc 1 mostly…and then talking shit…happy days!

  3. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Musical | Fasting, Food and other musings by determined34

  4. As one who spends a lot of time listening to music and thinking about food, your comment about music being emotional food brought the sincerest of smiles to my heart.


  5. I’m a huge Bowie fan. The music and the man. I can’t help but be transported when I listen to him. Give me some Ziggy Stardust and Oh you Pretty Things, and I’m good to go. Seriously, you should know that I’m leaving this post and going directly to my iTunes to fire up some Bowie. Thanks!!

  6. Kylie says:

    We watched Labyrinth a while back, and now my daughter recognizes every Bowie song as a Bowie song when he comes on the radio.

    So proud.

  7. rossmurray1 says:

    It’s an indescribable moment when an artist suddenly speaks to your soul, when the music is no longer just “there” but given and received as a gift, a revelation of what music can be. And the amazing thing is how the moment comes through different artists to different people. You: Bowie. Me: Van Morrison “Astral Weeks,” X “Under the Big Black Sun,” Otis Redding live at Monterrey Pop, just a few years ago (late in the game) the music of Nick Drake. Or maybe it’s just something not profound but simple and joyful like “Save It for Later” by The English Beat or “Grass” by XTC or “Heavy Metal Drummer” by Wilco. I could go on. I feel blessed to have had those moments in my life.

  8. The way you described the feeling of finding a new Bowie song really expresses passion for his music.
    Thank you for the pingback 🙂

  9. Thom Topham says:

    Nice piece. I’m a massive Bowie fan. Some people say my music sounds like him on occasion, particularly my singing. Why not judge for yourself? http://www.reverbnation.com/thomtopham

  10. Lynda says:

    Love Bowie! He is such a strange one, but so satisfying to listen to.
    About WordPress: I think they are working on their servers. My friends here and there have been complaining, then I was having trouble (though now resolved), and now I read that you are. The must be doing maintenance, though it would be nice if they would alert us to this nuisance when they do!
    (thanks for visiting me today)

  11. mightwar says:

    It’s always magnificent when a song or artist grabs you like that – becoming a very tangible part of your life and memories. I’m never bothered when my choice of music differs from other people: if I am uplifted by what I hear and another can’t feel it, it’s OK because music speaks differently to each one of us. That’s its magic. I couldn’t imagine life without that soundtrack.

    • I know exactly what you mean/how you feel. I can’t imagine doing most of the things I love to do without music accompanying me at most every turn. I’m always interested in why we love a particular song – and how others could NOT love it… but that’s the magic of music – it speaks to everyone differently.

      • mightwar says:

        Trying to convince others about certain songs/artists/genres does makes for interesting conversation though – your post being a case in point. I’ve been least successful at convincing my friends about my love for Gregorian Chant but hey, life wouldn’t be as fun or as interesting if we all liked the same thing, right?

        • Yup! I Love Limpopo (pre Red Elvises when they were doing hyped up Russian Folk music…) but others are quite resistant! But I’m often one to go kicking and screaming when it comes to listening to something new…so I completely understand that…while at the same time not understanding how someone could not LOVE what I LOVE 🙂

  12. Pingback: The Only Drug With No Harmful Side Effects – A Daily Prompt Post | Edward Hotspur

  13. seeker says:

    Thanks for the pingback

  14. Cathy Ulrich says:

    I love Bowie! His style, his aura, his music. Brilliant! Great post, Denise.

  15. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Musical Role in My Life | My Blog

  16. mairedubhtx says:

    I’ve always liked Bowie’s music. He has been one of my favorite artists. I can understand when you say “emotional food.” Well done.

  17. Pingback: Tormented By The Daily Prompt | The Chatter Blog

  18. Reblogged this on The Mercenary Researcher and commented:

    I love when the ‘Daily Prompt’ covers a topic I’ve already written about ~ so here’s ‘reblog-a-thog’ about music…I feel very strongly about it…and my thoughts of it are sprinkled through out many of my posts… Enjoy if you’ve not read it before.

  19. The Waiting says:

    I love David Bowie. I knew I could keep my husband around when, on our second date, I rhetorically said, “Know what a really good song is?” and he replied “Golden Years.” For me, the band that took me to the next level in terms of complete adoration of music was the Smashing Pumpkins.

  20. furtheron says:

    Music is my biggest passion. I’ll admit actually Bowie doesn’t feature hugely in my collection – however I think him something close to genius due to how he continued to work through different genres and continued to excel – always pushing himself on to new sounds and look at the collaborators he worked with – just in terms of guitarists… Mick Ronson, Robert Fripp, SRV, Peter Frampton – the list is endless….

    Off to Spotify to create a Bowie greatest hits playlist for myself 🙂

    • I couldn’t agree with you more about music being the biggest passion – and I love a lot of the artists he collaborated with as well- Adrian Belew, Brian Eno, Iggy Pop etc.
      The most wonderful thing about music is that the list of favorites is almost infinite.

      One of my other favorites (in the list of many) is Frank Zappa – for a lot of the same reasons listed in Annie’s letter even though they are very different in their style.

      Enjoy your Bowie list! Don’t forget to add Station to Station! Thanks for reading

  21. Bowie is all things to all people. If not for Bowie, Yes wouldn’t have had Rick Wakeman, King Crimson wouldn’t have had Adrian Belew, and I wouldn’t have sung Space Oddity at the top of my lungs whilst getting ready one morning, thinking no one else was there, only to open the door and be applauded by 7 people who were left over from the party we had thrown the night before.

    Someone once stole my ChangeOneBowie CD. They were never seen or heard from again.

  22. theabrasiveembrace says:

    I still “just listen” to music which thanks to you makes me now wonder if I’m malnourished…Bob Dillon got through to me recently, though (“the sun isn’t yellow, it’s chicken” – brilliant).

    Since I dislike country as well, I’d like to share this with you: What do you get when you play a country song backwards?

  23. Le Clown says:

    People often ask me the eternal question: Are you Beatles or Rolling Stones. And I always answer: I am Bowie. He changed the way I listen to music. When I had my highschool reunion, people remembered me for my obsession with Bowie… It hasn’t much changed since then either…
    Le Clown

  24. Pingback: Sound and Vision | A Life Less Scripted

  25. asoulwalker says:

    This is really quite profound.

  26. runningonsober says:

    I *like* Bowie, but he never stirred my emotional pot so to say. (though that sounds kinda naughty.) I did however love a song of his, the title evades me, but a line was, “see these eyes so green, they could stare for a thousand years…” I can relate to that. Also from the same song, “now I’m putting out the fire with gasoline.” I can relate even more to that.

    Soul food for me- Sade, Patty Griffin, Cowboy Junkies, John Coltrane, Death Cab for Cutie… At least for today!

    • That’s off of Let’s Dance – Cat People (Putting out the Fire).

      One day try Bowie’s Station to Station – or Low; both amazing.

      It’s ok that his music doesn’t move you in the same way – but music moves you – and that’s what’s phenominal about music.

      I have many bands that I love – well, all the music I listen to I love – that’s why I listen.

      Life’s to short to listen to crappy music! I will check out some of your favorite (for now) muscians!

  27. Kim says:

    Beautiful thoughts. I like the term “emotional food” too. I remember once hearing someone call music “feelings put to rhythms” or something like that. It’s right on. Led Zeppelin, Metallica, and Red Hot Chili Peppers (go figure) have been my emotional food. I don’t have one artist who does it for me, but I go to certain people when I’m feeling a particular way. Alice in Chains actually helped get me through a difficult patch when I was in my early 20’s! Their music plunged me into the depths of my anger and pulled me through to the other side. I guess that was more like musical therapy!

    • With music/art/literature – it’s now who you love; it’s that you love ~
      I move thru different artists as well – depending on how I’m feeling. But I always know that Bowie’s music is there waiting for me – and as I age, I hear it differently – and like Annie, I shift btwn songs that I feel an emotional connection to.

      Music & therapy go hand in hand. It’s no coincidence that people say “Music sooths the savage breast” –

      Interestingly, after some head injuries, people lose their ability to speak but not to sing – I find that so interesting and amazing – I want to know what that MEANS – how is it that singing/music is so seperate from speech?

      Thank you for reading and sharing~

  28. Wait, there are people out there who don’t like Bowie’s music?? WTF?

  29. Weird – everything is fine on my laptop – same IE9 browser and older machine…weird….weird…weird..

  30. Emotional food – I love that!

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