This winter continues to be a harsh one, not just in weather (at least here in Denver) but in recent losses in the music world as well. In a few short weeks, we have lost David Bowie, Lemmy Kilmister, and Natalie Cole.
David Bowie‘s passing came as a shock this morning to nearly everyone. Few artists were so directly entwined with their art as much as Bowie and it is somehow apprapos that he gave us one last album two days before his death. That he created this final work while suffering from a currently unspecified cancer makes this achievement truly astounding (and makes me feel like a bit of an underachiever!). The Thin White Duke will live on as an innovator, influencer, and rock n roll icon.
It is hard to choose from his nearly 50 year career, but a few of my favs:
Under Pressure: With another great, the one and only Queen, this is probably the first Bowie song I knew was Bowie besides the songs from Labyrinth (we’re getting to that, never fear):
Fame: It’s funky, it’s over the top, it’s awesome:
Cracked Actor: First, great riff. Second, the verse and chorus fit the riff. One of my criticisms of Bowie over the years has been the disparity between the riff and and the rest of the song in a number of his compositions. It is a personal stylistic preference/quirk of mine that the cuffs and collars should match. ;D Alladin Sane is actually probably the only Bowie album I listen to with pleasure from start to finish!
As The World Falls Down (from the movie Labyrinth): I think I speak for a generation that Jareth made, um, quite the impression on us, shall we say? Only Bowie could have pulled off that role (and the costumes!) with that much panache, tongue-in-cheek camp, and sexy hotness!
As we learned in Airheads, Lemmy is God. His loss, while not exactly a surprise with his health problems over the last several years, was still an unwelcome one. A fixture in hard rock, metal, and punk for decades, Lemmy’s music inspired countless artists. I’m not even sure it is even quantifiable, as was evidenced by the outpouring of grief at his death and at his funeral.
Motörhead‘s “Ace of Spades” was probably the closest thing to punk I heard until my mid-teens. This was their genius: Is it metal? Is it punk? Who cares! It is awesome, somehow simultaneously embodying punk simplicity and metal complexity. And Lemmy as an individual was perhaps the most cool and chill of rock’s iconic legends, admired for his complete embrace of the rock n roll lifestyle and attitude as well as his music. Like Bowie, he seemed immortal and it still seems surreal that death actually found him.
Ace of Spades: It’s the only card you need!
Killed By Death: Lemmy always had a fantastic sense of humor…
Lemmy with Probot (Dave Grohl’s metal project): Shake Your Blood
The world is less cool without you, Lemmy. You will be missed.
Lastly, a quick nod to Natalie Cole. While I didn’t follow her closely, she had a long and prolific career despite her personal challenges. Her beautiful voice speaks for itself.
With her father (posthumously-through the magic of the studio): Unforgettable
A medley of classics:
I would like send my thoughts and prayers to their families and a sincere wish that the battalion of sorrows is on its way out of town.
Lemmy photo credit: Jim Hall, www.primitivejim.com