"Once there were mountains on mountains and once there were sunbirds to soar with..." - D. Bowie, Station to Station
I am a Bowie fanatic. My story I'm sure is not too dissimilar to many others. DB reached out to me across oceans and nations to impact my adolescent life in a Hobart suburb at the bottom of Australia. In fact Hobart's poorest and toughest suburb called Warrane. But when Bowie's latest 70s vinyl masterpiece spun on the turntable in my bedroom I was always transported to a world of astonishing potentials. Anything seemed possible.
Each Bowie album released in the 70s - Diamond Dogs, Low, Heroes, Station to Station etc - was an event we fans anticipated breathlessly. We also must include 1980's gem Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) in any list of Best Bowie Albums. Yes, these were the golden years of Bowie's groundbreaking innovation. A new record deal and the release of Let's Dance then brought Bowie mega-stardom and money, lots of it. I'm sure I wasn't the only early adopter who felt the new fans of the 80s onward didn't really understand David. No, not the way I did.
And although ensuing decades produced the occasional Bowie song that was equal in stature to the works of the artist at the height of his powers these songs were few in number. I remember, when I attended the tour promoting the Reality album in 2004 in Sydney, Bowie finishing a song off the new album and receiving a response just a notch above polite applause. "I know," he said to the audience in a tone of resignation and just a smidge of annoyance, "let's hear the old ones."
My theory is that Bowie had become by then a very happy man who lived a comfortable life sweetened by rewarding relationships with his wife and children. A great place to be but maybe not the most fertile soil for the type of culture-challenging creativity that had fuelled his earlier productivity.
But with the release of his 2013 album The Next Day it was clear that Bowie had found subject matter that again extracted the best from his creative juices, namely mortality, sickness and death. This 70s Bowie fan felt like he was experiencing the full force of David's unique gifts once more. Bowie further explored the expiration of life and the prospects of an afterlife in the superb Blackstar.
Without doubt in his mid to late 60s Bowie starkly and dramatically illustrated the power of a creative human being to go even deeper into the modes of self-expression that we recognise as authentic and unique to that individual. The gifts he gave us in those later years bookended an incredible legacy.
Thank you David Bowie for answering your creative call.
The question we must ask ourselves is - are we answering ours?
Creatively yours, Anthony
CEO Creative Call
text and photo ©Anthony Ackroyd 2020