Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Forty years ago, Ziggy first played guitar.

June 6, 1972just 24 days before my birthDavid Bowie released The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars. It's not Bowie's best album (or, maybe on some days, in my estimation it is) but the world was forever changed by its release.

How many other musicians can honestly make that claim? Not many, my friend, not many.

It's hard to overstate Bowie's influence on me since I got waaaay into him, man, in my teen years. It was at just the right time, when I was starting to consume different music voraciously alongside deep plunges into every rock and/or roll encyclopedia, reference or review books in an effort to educate myself. And it was down these twisting paths of discovery that I discovered countless new musical thrills. I admit I kind of wish that kind of world still existed since it had a vast effect on how I view music, but I'm not ging to play the old man card and definitively claim "things were better in the old days."*

It was during this time that I started hunting out Bowie stuff since I liked the singles I'd heard on the radio (all his early stuff was considered classic rock, of course ... even in the mid-'80) and once the Ryko reissues started coming out it was all over. I bought them all on tape, wore them out and then bought CDs once I finally owned a CD player in 1991.

Anyway, I remember playing the first four albums over and over, with Space Oddity and Hunky Dory eventually dropping off, then Man Who Sold The World and then, well, Ziggy never did drop out of rotation, even after the subsequent reissues cam out and got played to death by me.**

And the funny thing is, like I said earlier, Ziggy is not his best album. It's not the one with the kost interesting ideas or the craziest (and most successful) experiments or any of that. So why is it often considered Bowie's "classic" album? There are two reasons for this, and once you hear them it's really quite obvious.
  1. He was popular before the release of Ziggy, but his popularity was largely marginal. After Ziggy he truly became an international super star.
  2. There isn't a weak song on the LP. It's close to perfect. Listen after listen, it never gets old.
So cheers Mr. Jones. As always I stand in awe of your accomplishments.*** And despite what appears to be your retirement from music I hold out hope that here is still more in you that will awe me in the future.

And thus endeth my meandering musings on David Bowie ... for today.

*They kind of were, though.
**I'm slightly fibbing here. Young Americans and Station To Station never got played to death in their tape form because I thought they were slight and didn't fall for their charms until years later. I partially blame both the terrible Fame '90 remix and the fact that nothing on Station could really match up to its title track so I just played that over and over.
***O.K., I'm not in awe of Tonight, but it still has a few strong tracks.

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