Perpetual Change: A Tribute To David Bowie

| Jan 18, 2016

Originally I had planned to do a review of Jennifer Leitham’s new project, Mood Swings. However, with the passing of David Bowie, it was decided that a tribute to Mr. Bowie would be more appropriate at this time. Look for that review next month.

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David Bowie

Words like “icon” and “artists” get thrown around a lot in the music business. Because of the all the talent competition shows lately, it seems like anybody who can play three chords on guitar and/or kinda sing is suddenly an “artist,” Well, on January 10th, 2016 we lost someone who truly was an artist — Mr. David Bowie.

Bowie had a career that spanned 50 years. Along with his music, he was also an actor in both movies and live theater. He released an amazing total of 27 studio albums, 9 live albums, 49 compilations, 6 EPs, 120 singles, and 3 soundtrack recordings. He was also known for collaborating with a wide variety of other musicians over the years, including Lou Reed, Mick Jagger, Queen, Robert Fripp of King Crimson and — Bing Crosby. (More on that last one later.) He has been married twice, currently to the super model Iman. He has a son from the previous marriage and daughter with Iman.

David Bowie was born David Robert Jones on January 8, 1947 in London, England. Around the age of 13, he started playing saxophone. His interest in music continued to grow and eventually lead to a series of bands as a teenager and into his early twenties. He had some very minor success with a few singles released during this time.

Sometime in 1967, David Jones became Davie Bowie. His first solo album, the self-titled David Bowie was released on Deram Records that year. It was in 1969 with the release of Space Oddity that things started to happen. That is when the world started to get to know the true art of David Bowie. The term “glam rock” came out of Bowie’s ever changing, gender bending (yet somehow always androgynous and even sexually ambiguous) stage presence.

Over the years, Bowie explored practically every musical genre. A prime example of this is his duet with Mick Jagger on Dancing In The Street. An excellent album example of his genre-hopping is 1974’s Diamond Dogs. There’s rock, of course, but also has some very unusual material that borders on experiment, such as Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family and the funk inspired 1984.

Diamond Dogs is known for one song that is a favorite in and out of the TG world — Rebel, Rebel. With lyrics like this you can see why:

You’ve got your mother in a whirl

She’s not sure if you’re a boy or a girl

and in the chorus:

Rebel rebel, you’ve torn your dress

Rebel, rebel, you’re face is a mess

Rebel, rebel, how could they know

Hot tramp, I love you so

Performing ‘Rebel Rebel’ on February 13 1974.

Performing ‘Rebel Rebel’ on February 13 1974.

Okay, remember that one aforementioned collaboration with Big Crosby? In 1977, Bowie teamed up with Bing Crosby for a duet, of sorts, which was part of the TV special Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas. Crosby sang Little Drummer Boy while Bowie (who loathed Drummer Boy), sang an especially written counter melody called Peace On Earth. Bowie is rumored to have done this simply because his mother was a huge fan of Crosby. In 1982, the song was finally released as a single.

Skipping almost light years ahead to his newest project Dark Star and you’ll find Mr. Bowie hasn’t lost his edge. It also contains the type of material that is hard to categorize, but nonetheless is signature Bowie.

In spite of the fact that his health had  started to deteriorate (he also had a heart attack in 2004) with cancer, he was determined to release the album along with accompanying videos. Long time Bowie producer and friend, Tony Visconti, has called the videos very poignant. According to a soon-to-be published article in Rolling Stone, Visconti goes into detail as to how Bowie was even making demos for a follow-up album to Dark Star. Sadly, this would never be realized, and Dark Star, which has yet to hit the Billboard Charts (but will probably be #1 when it does), is being regarded as Bowie’s “farewell” album.

Ziggy Stardust

Ziggy Stardust

The music world definitely owes a debt to David Bowie. His vocal influence can be found in a lot of the bands and singers who were popular in the mid to late 1980s and early ’90s. Perhaps the transgender community owes even a bigger debt to David Bowie. While Bowie certainly wasn’t the first to use drag in music (Elvis wore eyeliner in his early days, and The Rolling Stones posed in drag for the sleeve cover of a single in 1966), Bowie’s use of crossdressing, costumes and make-up wasn’t just a theatrical affectation. It was part of who he was. It was part of the Space Oddity and Ziggy Stardust. It was part of his music, his presentation, and who he was as an artist. There will never be another performer, in any genre, such as David Bowie who has made an impact that has crossed so many boundaries. Thankfully, he left a wealth of work behind for us to enjoy.

Bowie’s music is available everywhere, so you’ll have no trouble finding anything. Check out his website at www.davidbowie.com . Also, my previous TGForum article on David Bowie was posted in May 2000, and can be accessed through the TGForum archives. )

NEW STUFF COMING UP

There’s a lot of new music that’s going to be released soon. Here’s just a short list.

Rev. Yolanda’s next Country Gospel Kirtan CD is scheduled for a spring release, although there is no firm date at this point .

Georgie Jessup and her band Philosopher Dogs will be performing at Kelly Walker’s Artstar Studio, 321 W. Madison St., Baltimore, MD on Jan 30; April 23 at The Wood Shop, Email for address and showtime; and at Edith May’s Paradise, 7711 Apple Ave., Jessup, MD on May 7, plus Edith May’s is on Facebook)

Michelle Rocking Horse Garcia has a new album entitled Take The Day Off. A review will be forthcoming.

Ryan Cassata has new music. Primarily, there’s one new tune called “Gender Binary (F*** You)” I’ll be review this and other new material soon.

Coco Peru has a new show entitled A Gentle Reminder-Coco’s Guide To A Somewhat Happy Life. Coco will be sailing the Caribbean on The Drag Queens Of The Sea Cruise, Jan. 23 thru Jan. 30. On Feb. 4 thru Feb. 6, she will be in San Francisco at Oasis. For information, more show dates and a new video, please check out her website.

NEW MUSIC

peaches_rubRub by Peaches

Anyone who has read my columns and reviews over the years has probably figured out I’m not a fan of rap/hip-hop. Having said that, though, I’d like to go on record and say that I actually do listen to everything I’m sent for review. Everything — all the way through, even rap.

Rub by Peaches is perhaps the only release I had a hard time sitting through to the end. Hey, I’m no prude by any imagination, but Peaches makes Miley Cyrus look and sound like Hannah Montana.

While the “musical” backing tracks are what you can expect in this genre, the lyric content was pure triple X stuff. If that’s what you’re into, then get this CD. I found it excruciating to listen to. Your mileage may vary.

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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About Pam Degroff: Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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