I.B. BAD ON A VIBRANT BUT BIFURCATED MARKETPLACE
What's growth got to do with it? (1/19a)
BRUCE GIVES OBAMA
A SEND-OFF SHOW
How fitting is that? (1/19a)
BBC RADIO 1 HOSTS FUTURE STARS
...including DIY up-and-comer Jorja Smith. (1/19a)
THE PRESIDENT-ELECT ON STREAMING
A companion piece to the SNL cold open. (1/19a)
...to the song they’re playin’ on the radio… The quiet and unexpected (to most) death of David Bowie, one of music’s most important artists EVER, rattled our Modern Rock community last week. That it happened just two days after his 69th birthday/release of his latest album Blackstar, heightened the sense of loss we’ve all been feeling. I asked my label and radio friends what was the first Bowie song they remembered hearing; their favorite Bowie song, and if they had any personal memories about him or his music that they wanted to share.
LAZLO/KRBZ: “When I was in the fourth or fifth grade, I picked up The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust at a garage sale. I remember putting it on and hearing ‘Five Years.’ I sat and listened to the entire record and go to ‘Rock and Roll Suicide’ and knew my life had been changed.”
TROY HANSON: “My fave Bowie tune is ‘The Pretty Things Are Going to Hell’ from Hours. I have a strong memory of having dinner with David’s guitarist Earl Slick before catching Bowie’s set, David was incredibly gracious and kind with his time afterwards, ever the gentleman.”
JEFF REGAN: “The DJ at the local roller rink would play ‘Let’s Dance’ twice a session back in the day. I had no reference point at that time to his previous work; all I knew was how much that song mattered to me. Only later did I start to piece together his remarkable gift to fuse/bend genres and transcend that which was ‘trendy.’ Plus, his ‘Peace on Earth/Lttle Drummer Boy’ with Bing Crosby will forever be one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs.”
LESLIE SCOTT: “It’s tough to pick one favorite song, so I have to pick two, one that might not even count: ‘Man Who Sold the World’ and ‘All the Young Dudes’ [Ed note: of course that counts!] I was always in awe of Bowie, because he could do ANYTHING. He was beyond an artist and beyond a musician.”
LYNN BARSTOW: “’Fame’ was the first song I knew, thanks to Casey Kasem. Then, after the fourth grade, I graduated to rock radio and heard ‘Suffragette City’ and ‘Space Oddity’ a lot. Ziggy was among the first records I bought, so my fave has got to be one of those—‘Five Years’ or ‘Starman’ or ‘Suicide,’ likely.”
MARK HAMILTON: “My favorite song is ‘Life on Mars’!!!!!”
HALLORAN: “Too many (favorites) to choose from, but ‘Moonage Daydream’ was the first one that transported me. ‘Queen Bitch’ was the first time I remember seeing him—on the Old Grey Whistle Test.”
RISA MATSUKI: “I heard my first Bowie song in 1978—it was ‘Changes’—my best friend’s mom was a huge fan and was playing the song one day. I remember looking at the cover of the album, being not quite able to wrap my head around this pretty man with long hair (I was 7), but there was something in the way the song told a story, and his voice stayed with me.”
JON MANLEY: “How in the hell is it possible to pick a favorite Bowie song? ‘Heroes.’ ‘Rebel Rebel.’ ‘Modern Love.’ ‘Life on Mars.’ Endless possibilities, and I refuse to choose! He made it OK to be weird, and isn’t that an even greater gift than the music he left us?”
NICK PETROPOULOS: “First song I heard was ‘Changes.’ First song I obsessed over was ‘The Man Who Sold the World,’ thanks to the Nirvana introduction. That intro led me to dive into his entire catalog, thus becoming just as obsessed with Mick Ronson’s guitar playing.”
LESLIE FRAM: “The first song I ever heard was ‘Space Oddity,’ and then became obsessed. He was so incredibly generous with his time when he came to Atlanta for Breakfast With Bowie on the 99X Morning X show. He did an intimate performance for fans at Smith’s Olde Bar. How often can we use the word genius where it truly applies? Bowie exemplified what it means to be an artist.”
KRIS GILLESPIE: “My introduction to David Bowie was about as peculiar as it can get. My grandparents were my caretakers while my parents finished college, and I would crawl up the stairs in their farmhouse to my uncle’s room to listen to music as a toddler. And somehow David Bowie (along with the likes of Lou Reed and Mott the Hoople) had found their way to the stereo of an 18 year-old rural Missouri farm boy in 1974. I can vividly remember sitting on the washing machine next to my mom in the kitchen on my 3rd birthday and my uncle walking in and giving me my own copy of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars and never being happier in my young life.
“I can’t really say for sure what the first song was under those circumstances; it was definitely a Ziggy Stardust track and I have a very strong memory of ‘Star’ being an early fixation and can still hear why. The production on the album is really vibrant, a bit dry (not a lot of reverb) and tight-mic’d so it feels like they’re playing right there in your bedroom. ‘Star’ has got some really great hooks but weird angles and shifts to it, so it sort of just tumbles out of the speakers.
It would be very hard to overstate the impact of David Bowie on my life and the lives of so many musicians I love, friends and colleagues through his art, his attitude, his life and now his death (the man made great art out of dying—that’s how remarkable he was). If you felt or wanted something different from everyone else around you, he gave a lot of people the confidence to express themselves in new and unique ways.
There will never be another David Bowie as we know it and I wouldn’t want to hang that sort of expectation on anyone. The great thing is that someone will come along and be as inspirational and influential as he was down the road, but it will be something new and different… some might say “alien” to what came before it. Let the children boogie.”
Let’s dance/For fear your grace should fall/Let’s dance/for fear tonight is all.