A little bit Ziggy

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Bowie

 

David Bowie is dead.

 

Both my heart and mind are struggling with this fact.  How can he be dead when I have a new album to listen to?  How can he be dead when all I see online this week are posts that link to his many powerful performances?  How can he be dead when he’s been an important part of my life for nearly forty three years?

I never met him and only saw him perform live once, but, like many other people throughout the world, as this week has proved, David Bowie is a dear friend who had no knowledge of my personal existence.  A friend who spoke to me intimately with every song he wrote.

 

In 1973, my parents bought a record player for the first time ever.  I was fifteen and had hardly given music any thought.  I was aware of the stuff they played on the radio, but just as background, and knew that friends talked about music without connecting to anything they said.  Until this point I’d been more interested in the Apollo Moon landings and reading science fiction.

With a record player in the house, here was a new toy to play with.  But what should I buy?

Initially, I think I only chose Life on Mars? because of the title’s science fiction implications, only realising later it was about something very different, yet the music and lyrics drew me in and my love of Bowie began.

At first it was a slow burning relationship.  The next two singles I bought were Stuck in the Middle by Stealers Wheel and Frankenstein by The Edgar Winter Group, which was the start of my eclectic taste in music.

Then a few weeks later, while on a family holiday, I spotted the Space Oddity album and bought it immediately, even though I couldn’t play it until we all returned home.  Again, the implication of science fiction teased me, along with an interest in hearing more by this man.  This was a time, of course, before the internet and the only way to hear music you wanted was by luck on the radio, by owning the records or by having friends who owned them.

However, being shy back then, I didn’t have many friends and none of them had any Bowie records.  But curiously, I found myself making more friends in the coming months through a mutual interest in Bowie’s music.  I think it’s fair to say that in this respect alone, he had a life-changing impact on my life.

More albums were added to my collection – The Man Who Sold the World, Hunky Dory, Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane; all brilliant, all so different from each other.  His almost eclectic approach to music seemed completely fitting.

My love of his music was both fulfilling and left me yearning for more (even now, this is true) to the point where, when Diamond Dogs was released, I got to the record shop just as they were opening the delivery and my copy was the first out of the box.  I was the first of my friends to buy it.  I think I played it virtually non-stop for months and it still remains one of my favourite albums.

Plenty of people claimed to hate Bowie at that time and I was laughed at for wearing T-shirts with his image on or for having my hair cut in the Ziggy/Aladdin style (though sadly not dyed orange), yet I enjoyed the fact that these people didn’t like the same music as me.  And in spite of my shyness I had a way to be a tiny bit extrovert – I could be a little bit Ziggy.

My musical tastes developed and broadened – Pink Floyd, Queen, Alex Harvey, for example – but Bowie kept delivering the goods with more variety.  Young Americans, Station to Station, Low, Heroes, Lodger and Scary Monsters were all excellent in their own ways.  New lyrical styles and a number of instrumental pieces saw him develop as a songwriter and a musician.

In spite of this, and although he wrote a number of great songs, Bowie didn’t put together an album that felt like an album (as opposed to a collection of songs) until Outside came along in 1995 and suddenly the old magic was revived again.  An album to compare with the likes of Ziggy Stardust and Diamond Dogs in its conceptual themes.

It felt like my friend had come home to me and the cooling of my love for his music and lyrics had never really left at all.  It still burned like a beacon.

It’s now over twenty years since Outside was released and we’ve had a number of other excellent albums since then.  I’ve been dabbling with musical compositions during this time and I’ve become a professional writer, neither of which would likely have been possible without the ongoing influence of a man who came from humble beginnings yet had such powerful visions that he shone like the star that he is and always will be.

I’ve only listened to the new album a few times since it was released, but already I find that the title track, Blackstar, is lodged in my mind.  And I love that a Bowie track still has the power to do this.  It is a very fine last album.

David Bowie is dead.

I am sad but still so in love with his music.  When I see the wonderful outpourings of love on the internet this week, I realise I have millions of friends who I will likely never get to know or even meet, but our mutual interest in the music of Bowie will always bind a little part of us.

In some ways I’m still the shy teenager who bought Life on Mars? but I’m also much more than that.  And today I’m also feeling a little bit Ziggy.

Thank you, David.

 

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Moss Garden (for David)

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A Smack to the Head…

Someone just started following this blog and it dawned on me that I haven’t posted here in absolutely ages.  As I’m awaiting feedback on a few things I thought I’d take the quiet moment to rectify the situation.  Maybe it will even inspire me to update the damn thing more often.  Or maybe I need a smack to the head to make me do so.

So, what to write about?

My grandkids are all growing faster than I’d like (six of them, now).  It makes me seem old just watching them change so much every time I see them.  My youngest, Ariana, has started cutting teeth and it hardly seems five minutes since she was born.  And my eldest, Caitlin, is rapidly approaching her 11th birthday.  And now I realise I’m sounding like every other old fogey out there.

When I’m writing it’s like age has no relevance whatsoever.  My mind is fired up, sharp, filled with ideas and in love with the words.

Speaking of my mind, I’ve been feeling a bit more creative since coming off my medication recently.  Although there are still a few problems, I think I’d rather manage them than go through the slightly disconnected feelings I’ve been having.  It seemed like my emotions were all dulled and my rational mind was taking too much control.

Take my brother, for instance.  I just realised I didn’t post here about how he was rushed into hospital last year and, after an emergency operation, was diagnosed with cancer.  Because of the medication I was on it didn’t properly register with my emotions and I began to feel a little guilty that I wasn’t more upset by the awful news.  Over Christmas he was in a really bad way and my rational reaction made me think I had to do something about my medication.  I’ve had a few weeps since then.  Although my brother’s condition is not good in the long term, recently he’s been a lot better on a day-to-day basis and I go and see him a couple of times a week.

I’ve been incredibly busy with the writing lately, which is always good considering I’m a freelance writer, but I’ve pretty much given up on the comics as a result and don’t have as much time for drawing and painting as I once did.  Ah well, I can’t do everything.

Spring is filling the garden with new growth and buds and a few early flowers.  We have frogspawn in the pond and the goldfish have survived the winter okay.  We even have a new footpath.

Big thanks

I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone who’s been visiting this blog recently, particularly those who have taken the time to click the “like” button on some of my recent painting posts.  It’s such a big thing to get a positive response of any kind and each time someone takes that extra little time to do so you are adding to the warm glow that encourages me to continue in my creative development.

Also, to those of you who were kind enough to follow the blog, I hope I provide you with enough interest that you will continue to do so.

Many thanks to you all.

A new phone

Yesterday I received my new phone, an HTC Wildfire S, which is an Android based smartphone.  I’m already really pleased with it – not only can I send and receive e-mails and Tweets, I can post to my blog like this.  It doesn’t have the ease of a computer or even the iPad, but it’s pretty cool.  I’ve also found Evernote for it, which allows me to synchronize my notes between all my devices.  I may even use it as a phone, too.

Are the doodles getting in the way?

I’m worrying that the doodles are taking over this blog and I’m losing sight of why I set it up in the first place.  While i enjoy doing them because they take five or ten minutes, mostly, my text entries have become lost among them.  Perhaps I need to think about a blog I dedicate to my doodles alone.  Or is this just another crazy Ince idea?  What do people think?

A Day Out

I’m in a bus that’s rattling along like crazy travelling to Hull for a few drinks with my Dad and two of my sons. Surprisingly, I’m managing to type on my iPad but with difficulty – not from the vibration but the lack of elbow room.

I downloaded the i paper before I left and have just finished reading that. It’s a nice way to read the paper and illustrates the way the iPad can bring so many things together in a convenient device. It may well be the best tool for me to handle my increasing forgetfulness, too.

Lat last night I downloaded Evernote, which is what I’m typing this on (I’ll transfer it to my blog later). Because it syncs between devices it may well be useful for me to keep notes and get things down even at relatively inconvenient times. I may well keep my iPod touch by the bed instead of a notepad. However, like anything else, how useful something like this is depends on how it’s used and managed and first I need to discover its details.

After being nearly empty for most of the journey, the bus is beginning to fill up. If it gets too much fuller I may have to put the iPad away.

I saw a WordPress piece today about blogging every day. While the idea of this is pretty cool, there is always a danger that you force yourself to write trivial stuff just to make sure that you blog so often. I keep promising myself that I’ll blog more often but I really think it’s better to blog when I feel I have something to say.

Travelling along Hessle Road on the bus, I can’t help but think that it might be a mine of characters for some kind of fly on the wall documentary about the kind of charts who travel on the bus and who live in the area. There was one woman in particular who sounded more like a character from League of Gentlemen than anything else I’ve ever heard. I wish I could record it to capture the feel. Writing it would never quite do it.

I’m now on the bus back to Pocklington and the grey cloud layer has broken up a little which has made it brighter than it’s been for days, although it’s only just in time for the sun to set and the onset of night. I hope tomorrow will be much better.

Actually, the change to the day is rather rapid and as we move further North and West it seems that the cloud is breaking up more. I hope it doesn’t mean that it’s going to freeze hard tonight – we could do without a repeat of the harsh weather.

My other blog is down

My other blog, Writing and Design, is down at the moment, but I’m not sure why.  It could just be that the database server is down for maintenance or something.

I was actually going to post something about not being at GamesCom this year, but clearly I’m going to have to wait until it’s back online until I can do so.

On a completely disconnected note, I have a pain in my back but it doesn’t feel muscular.  I’m going to give it a couple of days to see what happens.

Update: Writing and Design is back up again.