It’s sometimes hard to describe inspiration and what it does. No everyone finds inspiration in the same things. On 10 January 2016 David Bowie left this world. For me, he has always been a great inspiration. Even when he is no longer with us, I can still be inspired by his music.
Back in 2004. My girlfriend surprised me with concert tickets for David Bowie. We went together to the concert in Amsterdam. At that time she still studied at the university, so this was a big present financially. She knew that I would really like this. It was even better because she accompanied me.
The concert that I went to in 2004 would bet he last concert in The Netherlands. Not long after this concert, Bowie suffered from heart problems. He was forced to end his tour at that time.
This girlfriend became my fiance and this fiance became my wife. My better half, who gave me another present a few years later. The Reality Tour live registration. Six blue coloured LPs with music that we both listened to during the concert. I know that this is a collector’s item. Just as I know that the orange and green LPs are collector’s items. These are the studio versions of the album Reality.
The inspiration I found in the music of David Bowie (and his words) is hard to describe. Bowie was always there to inspire me. Even before I was born, there was this iconic figure. No, I’m not the obsessed fan who cries during a concert.
When times were difficult, the music gave me comfort. At not-so-difficult times, the music was also there for me to feel even better. I know that not everyone will agree with me. For me, it mattered. For me it was important.
When a press release was issued that a new album would be sold in 2013, I didn’t buy it the next day. No, I bought my copy of The next day the same day! In the years that followed, I bought another compilation album and I was one of the first in the record store to buy the vinyl copy of ★ (Blackstar). This album was released on 8 January 2016. Bowie turned 69 and the music was way different from what I heard before. I couldn’t really place some of the lyrics. No, there was no premonition of what was about to happen. Two days later, I heard the news that Bowie died at the age of 69.
Inspiration comes from different things in life. Sometimes it can be a painting, a photo or it can be words or music. When it comes to music and words, Bowie gave me inspiration. When I take a look at his impressive discography, there are some songs that stand out.
When I think of the words that are part of I’m afraid of Americans, I can relate in some way.
Yeah, I’m afraid of Americans
I’m afraid of the words
I’m afraid I can’t help it
I’m afraid I can’t
I’m afraid of Americans
It is a matter of truth for me when I hear these words. Some Americans do scare me. Especially when they have access to nuclear codes. But, I keep in mind that Bowie was using a satirical version of the world he saw on this song from the album Earthling (1997). He wrote these words because of those people who thought they were better than others.
If I am in search of a more positive song, I can’t ignore Heroes (1977).
Oh we can beat them, forever and ever
Then we could be Heroes, just for one day
Everyone can be a hero. Even it’s just for one day. Thanks to love, you can experience strength and it will make your belief more firm. You can become that everyday hero.
Sound and vision (1977) is a song that seems to be positive, but in fact, it’s not. This song was originally an instrumental version that would show the skills of David Bowie as a saxophonist. The message or words was added later. It’s a message of someone who knows that he needs to stop himself from poisoning himself. At that time Bowie was addicted to drugs and he wanted to be in that blue room that he described. In that room there would be only one option: stay away from these drugs. If it wasn’t for this decision there wouldn’t be such a long song list on his discography.
Just as Bowie, I was also inspired by the events we nowadays know as the Space Race. Who would be able to go into space first? Who would be able to land on the moon? In the same year the Apollo 11 mission marked the first moon landing, Bowie presented the world with the song Space Oddity (1969). A few years later, it was Starman (1972) that again dealt with the subject space. In 1995 – together with the Petshop Boys – Bowie launched his single Hello Spaceboy. At that time, I wasn’t really moved by this song. In 2004 I realised that this song should be played live. See if you agree, the Reality Tour version is available on Youtube:
Many of the songs of Bowie became more powerful or intense because of their live versions. But it wasn’t just that. It was also the part he played as Jareth the Goblin King or Major Jack Celliers that became part of my memory of Bowie.
Why is it, that this blog about inspiration consists of the work of David Bowie? Well, because he inspired me. He left us a legacy of important messages, beautiful words and music.
Today it’s the tenth day of January and I remember David Bowie. He was truly inspiring!