I admit it; I didn’t get David Bowie. No hate. Not hating. I’m not saying that he wasn’t a genius or beautiful or the physical embodiment of art and music and fashion. He was, with his makeup and haircuts and his perfect white-guy Anglo-Saxon body. I just didn’t care. I am put off when Art School, Fashion and music intersect. It’s a little complicated for me.
I mentioned this to a friend and he immediately began quoting Bowie lyrics. I had to stop him. You see, I’m a drummer and I hardly care about lyrics. Yes, I’ve written songs, we all have, but the words are secondary. In my world, rocknroll should make you bleed, make you want to fuck, get drunk and high, fight, it’s supposed to hurt because it’s teenage music, even if you’re an old man, and it spits and shouts anger and frustration and revolt.
It is Rebel Without a Cause, the Fender Stratocaster, and laughing your ass off after you’ve wrecked your car.
The lyrics and costumes and backgrounds come later. Important? Sure. Who doesn’t like cool clothes? Or a decent light show? And truly, Dylan, The Beatles, Jim Morrison, Bowie, everyone, has written amazing lyrics, poems, rants with a beat. Dig it. No question. But drums, bass, guitar, heavy amps and the occasional Hammond B3 are the foundation of everything.
I do not give a shit about Lady Gaga, folkrock whiners, clever verse set to a jangling rhythm. Bowie was all right. So was Michael Jackson, Elvis, Janis, Buddy, Stevie Ray, anyone you want to mourn, personal saints and saviors. Me? I miss Otis Redding and Keith Moon. Shit, man, everyone, everything dies, all heroes and family and pets and celebrities. Gone, gone away forever. But rock remains and I love to listen to the exploding chords, the beat, reverb, echo, ear splitting volume. That’s what I seek and, thankfully, have found. That’s what saved my ass as a young guy who hated school, hated work, hated his friends, his clothes, hated other people, hated himself. I passed on Bowie. Sorry, fans. I guess I wasn’t sensitive enough. He didn’t give me what I needed at the time and what I probably still need.
Have you ever awakened the next morning hung over, lost, confused, can’t find your keys, wonder if your nose is broken and how that happened, need a cigarette, and you can’t hear, there is muffled ringing in your loud-damaged ears, begin to remember the gig, the crowd, the concert, scenes take shape, maybe real, maybe not, and you are glad to be alive? Literally alive and in pain and it’s perfect.
That’s rocknroll and I wouldn’t change it. RIP everyone and Turn It Up.