i've been waiting a long time to use that cap at the bottom

anonymous asked:

I've been made fun of my whole life for being a Bowie fan (I'm only 17 of age) but now that he's passed away all of a sudden everyone loves him. Even though it's great that they finally discovered his talent, it's pissing me off that they've made fun of me for so long only to "love" him and everything about him now, it's kinda too late to come around now when they've always made fun of me.... (If this is send twice its because my wifi sucks)

I completely relate to this. And you know who was giving me grief half the time? Other David Bowie fans! 

Lemme explain. I was 17 in 1977, so here’s what David did in my high school years alone, 1974-1978:

  • Diamond Dogs
  • David Live 
  • Young Americans
  • Station to Station
  • Changesonebowie
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth
  • Low*
  • Heroes*
  • Co-wrote, played on, and produced 2 albums for Iggy Pop, The Idiot and Lust for Life and toured as a member of Iggy’s band*
  • ”Little Drummer Boy” duet with Bing Crosby*
  •         (*These 4 albums, the tour, and Bing were all in the very year I turned 17!!!)
  • David Bowie Narrates Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf (You know David narrated a classical album for kids in 1978, right?)
  • Stage (technically came out my first month of college, but it put a nice cap on this run that ends at age 18)

There were also massive tours in here, and some major US TV appearances besides the famous Bing Crosby one (”Little Drummer Boy”)s; notably, the December 1974 Dick Cavett appearance debuting “Young Americans” (you’ve seen a million gifs of this on tumblr – skinny David with a brown suit, blue shirt, and band that included Luther Vandross), the March 1975 Grammy presentation to Aretha Franklin (super-skinny tuxedo look: you’ve seen this gif’d too, as well as the pictures of him with John & Yoko afterward), and, in November 1975, a jaw-dropping appearance on Soul Train (likewise, amply gif’d) followed by his US primetime debut on Cher

That’s right: it took five years for David to make it to prime time in the US after he did in the UK, three and a half years after his UK epoch-defining “Starman” performance on Top of the Pops. Being a Bowie fan is alllll about hoping that other people will catch up someday. 

But that’s the general tally for Bowie in my high-school years: 5 studio albums of his own, two incredibly different live albums, his first best-of collection, a classical kids album, a movie, a bunch of TV, a couple of huge tours, and the 2 Iggy Pop albums. In four years.

Me, I was loving it.  Diamond Dogs kicked down my door, Young Americans stole my heart, Station to Station blew my mind, and Low lifted up my soul  – but a lot of Bowie fans were just not digging these new directions. 

Diamond Dogs is too depressing.” “Why are you listening to that Young Americans disco shit?” “What’s with the Johnny Mathis bullshit and that prog rock title track on Station to Station? And more disco shit!” “WTF, half of Low isn’t even songs.” Ironically, people started to catch up to Low quickly enough that “Heroes” came out a few months later and got slagged as “not as good as Low.” 

Here’s what’s really ironic. One of the quotes I’ll always remember from the era, paraphrased from more people I can count: “Bowie needs to quit this artsy-fartsy bullshit, get back together with the Spiders, and play some fucking rock and roll.”

Wait, what? STOP being artsy-fartsy and go BACK to Ziggy??? Because also ironically, Ziggy was an artistic turning point, yes, but also kind of a flop. It peaked at only #75 on the chart in 1973 – and trust me, peaking at #75 was even less high than it sounds.

And yet, THAT’s what people wanted from Bowie when I was 17. Ch-ch-change BACK, to when his last good song was (the ironies accrue) “Rebel Rebel,” but mostly, go back to even years before that.

“Acting? Classical? Bing Crosby? Mime? Disco? Bowie needs to make up his fucking mind.”

Also ironically: I came to despise the Ziggy Stardust album as the refuge for haters, conservatives, and other cowards who didn’t have the courage to follow Bowie into the future. (And yes, a lot of those people’s objections were explicitly racist – get rid of those black band members, stop playing that black music.) TOTALLY unfair to the album itself, but it took me another 10 years to realize that you could like Ziggy Stardust and not be a closed-minded jackass. LOL

(btw, this was taught to me by a woman whose favorite album was in fact Low, our common starting place for Bowie when we met 5 years later. We started hanging out just to listen to records, but it unexpectedly turned into love over the following year. We’ve been married over 30 years now, and when she calls me, my phone plays “Be My Wife” – yep, Bowie, from Low. There’s vastly more to our shared taste in music than Bowie for sure, but I can in fact highly recommend holding out for someone who gets your taste in Bowie as a bottom line.)

All of this is to say that, no kidding, I really, REALLY do relate to what you’re saying. This has been going on since not long after David Jones changed his name to Bowie in the first place. It was certainly at the heart of my own experience as a 17-year old Bowie fan back in 1977,  including from Bowie fans who only liked what little they liked, and may have hated the rest even more as a result.

It carried into my 20s and beyond of course, starting with a whole new wave of “artsy-fartsy” hate for videos like “Ashes to Ashes” and “Fashion,” more “disco shit” dismissal of Let’s Dance, more movies, etc. “Go back to rock and roll, dammit.”

Although let the record show, I never heard anybody hating on Bowie in Labyrinth. There are apparently some limits to how stupid people can be. Maybe. LOL

Here’s the thing. So much about David was so cool. Impossibly cool. Beyond the reach of any human. 

But so much about him was so un-cool. I was inspired by how cool he was, but comforted and inspired by how uncool he was. He liked more kinds of music than was cool to like. He read weird books because he liked to read. (I bet you’ve had friends say, “Why are you reading THAT? It’s not even assigned.” Happened to me when I was 17, and you KNOW it happened to David.) 

He was into modern art, mime, silent movies, and I can’t even begin to emphasize how uncool it was to like science fiction when he was into it. You know what else happened when I was 17? Star Wars. THEN comes a bunch of cool sci-fi, but when Bowie was talking about Robert Heinlein, and doing The Man Who Fell to Earth and stuff like that in the early and mid-70s? Absolutely not cool. Wall to wall weird.

And all the grief we’ve gotten as his fans over the years? He was getting that as a person. People were saying this shit to him – and what did he do? He kept doing whatever he was gonna do anyway, taking pleasure from what gave him pleasure, and letting the rest go. It was either going to work or not, but it was enough for David if it made sense to him.

That’s why it really is inevitable that some people in your life are going to miss part of what you love best about Bowie. Because I think part of what we love best about Bowie is that people didn’t always get him – but we sensed that he got that part of us

What I mean is, Can you imagine David saying to you, “You read too much. Why are you watching THAT movie? You call THAT art? THAT’s not music. Your other friends are too weird.” Of course not. On top of being weird, David had empathy. 

It runs all through his music. “You’re not alone!” he sang. “You’ve torn your dress, your face is a mess” – but David understood the secrets of your heart that anybody just looking at your outer self would miss. ”How could they know?” he asks, shaking his head in sympathy. “Slow down, let somebody love you.” “I’ll stick with you for a thousand years.” 

He understood what it was like to feel uncomfortable in your own skin (and teeth and eyes). All that shit you’ve heard from your parents, your friends, your teachers, people you might have dated – David heard all that and worse. And yet, he carried on, knowing in the end that “nothing will drive them away, but we can be heroes.”

It’s a miracle that he walked among us while we were alive. It’s a miracle that he followed his own uncoolness. It’s a miracle that anybody got him, even if it’s also still kind of exasperating that everybody doesn’t. Srsly? What is wrong with u ppl? LOL

So I’m going to let this overly long reply serve as the official wrap-up of my month-long detour into an almost all-Bowie blog while I worked through my grief, with my thanks again to all of you who stayed with me, or who’ve started following me. 

I’m also going to close by remembering that phrase David used for Ziggy, written in 1971: Leper Messiah. Simultaneously venerated and outcast, ultimately saving us not by how cool he was, but by how uncool he was. For that matter, the cool kids never needed saving. We did. We do.

Many of the people in your life will never get this. A galaxy of us here on tumblr get it, though. I get it. And more than anyone, David got it.

Forgive your friends. Be glad they enjoy the Bowie that they do. Share it with them, and cherish the rest for yourself. Take comfort in being one of the lepers that David will keep saving forever. Follow your own uncoolness into joy.