Bowie – Changes

Today mark’s the release of a new David Bowie single, Blackstar, also the title track of his 25th Studio album to be released on Bowie’s birthday next year.

dare-death-of-rock-n-roll600-1[1]The Fred Perry Subculture website has an extract from a David Laurie book, called Dare. I have to admit, I found a couple of the claims somewhat troubling.

How Bowie & Kraftwerk Inspired The Death of Rock’N’Roll

Screams the subhead, and book cover, along with

[David Bowie and Kraftwerk] invented modern pop music

I admit, I have not read the book. While I can see some validity in the death claim, except I doubt anyone in the US would actually agree Rock and Roll is dead, even today. I just don’t agree that Kraftwerk, and/or Bowie invented modern pop music.

David Lauire says of himself “David Laurie was 14 in 1982, living in an endlessly damp, grey South Wales”. Coincidentally, 10-years before that, as a 14-year old, in April of 1972, I was watching David Bowie and the Spiders from Mars in High Wycombe.

There is no doubt about his influence then, but I do think this is taking what Bowie did, and fitting it to a chosen narrative. ie “Can you write about how Bowie invented modern pop music?”.

Rather than Bowie being and driving the change, what he really did, more than possibly anyone else, was make the changes to himself, his own music, to stay relevant. The changes would have happened without him, it was his realization and ability to move with the changes that set him aside from his peers… The Soul diva persona was a direct response to the dance music revolution that had started in earnest in 1972 in London and was growing rapidly through the mid-70’s. Glam Rock was dead…

I’d argue, somewhat more tenuously, that his electronic music, and man who fell to earth period was little more than Bowie thrashing around trying to find a way to be relevant with the emergence of punk, and equally more electronic music, along with Eno two guys with history, trying to find a future. The Berlin Trilogy a good justification for this, it wasn’t until the b-side of Lodger, with it’s more traditional Alomar guitar riffs, and more regular beat that Bowie found his rhythm again, and this continued on Scary Monsters.

So, yes no one predicted his new personas, because at the time, only the people dependent on the Bowie income stream cared. Pop culture, fashion and youth movements wait for no man…

“Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time”