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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