31 Days: Celebrating the creativity of David Bowie

This series of articles running through January will explore ways of keeping our head above water in physical, mental, emotional and creative areas. There will be creative challenges, competitions and giveaways. For the full background see here.

I’m not sure what this post was going to be about before I heard David Bowie’s new song , released today, from his first album in ten years. David Bowie is 66 years old today and to my mind he is the most creatively inspiring artist in the industry and his influence stands even though he has not been releasing new material.

He first came to fame with ‘Space Oddity’ in July 1969, experimental and eclectic, his androgynous Ziggy Stardust alter ego, was bold, sexy and inspired a cult following and brought elements of visual media to the stage. According to his biographer David Buckley the Ziggy cult was “unique—its influence lasted longer and has been more creative than perhaps almost any other force within pop fandom.” Bowie has continually reinvented himself and experimented and innovated with look and music, from Ziggy to the Thin White Duke, to his ambient music collaboration with Brian Eno, his new Romantic ‘Ashes to Ashes’ to his hard rocking and energetic Tin Machine outfit. He’s also acted in numerous films.

Perhaps it’s not necessary to add to the plethora of articles and the general excitement among fans of Bowie on the day he announces an album many thought might never come. His new song is moving for it’s mood of retrospection and fragility, it’s sense of being a marker for both for something new but also the fading light of a life. Bowie has epitomized life, creativity, exuberance and this song ‘Where are we now?; is a quiet reflection on where he finds himself at now and where we find him amongst his already evident legacy.

Even if you’re not a fan of his music, his stature as a premier influencial and creative figure in the last 40 years or so cannot be denied. I was born months after ‘Space Oddity’ was released but have appreciated so much of his music, many of his songs being among my very favourites. But most of all as I look at this new video and think about what David Bowie means as a performer and creator to me, I realise that he epitomises the creative spirit and that desire of saying things in new ways, that constant reinvention, novel expression and creative restlessness and energy that are at the heart of my endeavours in writing and at the heart of me.

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6 comments

  1. What a great post. I couldn’t agree more! Few people inspire me as much as David Bowie. I’ve been a fan ever since I saw the movie ‘Labyrinth’ as a child, and I love how his whole life has been an artistic statement. Also, I love the new song! I was so happy to hear it all over the radio yesterday. It was like ‘Bowie Day’! 🙂

  2. Hi Alison et al. I remember seeing a documentary about Bowie a few years ago. Apparently part of his creative technique in writing songs involved writing words and phrases on pieces of paper, putting them into a container and then randomly drawing them out and putting them together. He later computerised the process.

    In the programme they even had some University Professor sit around a table analysing his lyrics in an effort to decipher their meaning. They ended up giving up because the lyrics had multiple meanings. This is pretty much the way with great poetry – multi faceted and multi layered.

    I’ve often thought it could be applied to poetry writing and fiction writing. There’s an idea for flash fiction Alison – draft a list of 10 phrases (6-8 words in length) and let people pick a combination of three or more to write a piece etc…

    1. Thanks so much for letting me know about this, it’s really interesting. Everything is connected in the mind in some way or another, there are always narrative links, ways of making things make sense, this is evident from the multiple meanings that the professor found in the lyrics. In a way his lyrics then can be many things to many people, in some ways how astrology readings work – if there’s enough human truth in it, something will resonate and make sense.

      Great idea on the flash fiction prompt. I’ll use it next Friday for the next one. Thanks again, some fantastic, interesting thoughts here.

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