Friday, January 15, 2016

Deep into the Stars with PDaughter

Out of the mouths of babes.

You guys know how sad I am that David Bowie passed away. I still can't believe he's gone.

Fortunately, this jumpsuit will live forever.
SiriusXM satellite radio has temporarily converted one of its more boring channels, "The Loft" (which normally plays "eclectic adult album alternative" music, lol) into an all-Bowie station. I've been listening to it in the car a lot this week, and it's been nice. Nice to hear both his popular tunes and obscure album cuts, nice to hear the tributes from other performers and artist in between songs, just nice to hear so much Bowie right now.

Precocious Daughter is a Bowie fan, too, and she was also saddened (although not as devastated as her mom) by his passing. I like the fact that she's getting to hear songs on the satellite channel that she hasn't heard before, and the fact that we can enjoy the more familiar songs together.

Today we were in car, listening to "Soul Love" from Ziggy Stardust, when she asked, "What exactly is the plot of his album?"

Pull up a chair, this could take a while.
I was ever so happy to explain. If you don't know the story behind this concept album, here it is: A far-off planet discovers that it has only five years of existence left. One particular inhabitant of this doomed world bails and travels through space, eventually coming into contact with Earth by broadcasting his groovy music over the radio waves. Upon landing, he becomes a huge rock star, which is both awesome and exhausting. Eventually his popularity, his ego, friction with his bandmates and the demands of fame get the better of him, and in the end he (literally? figuratively?) becomes a martyr to the rock and roll lifestyle and (literally? figuratively?) commits suicide.

It's not totally unexpected that David Bowie, the singer, ended up playing out the story of Ziggy, the character, pretty much as he envisioned it on record. It probably wasn't entirely unintended, although it's just as likely he had no idea of the size and power of the genie he let out of the bottle when he put the album together. Art is like that.

Anyway, PDaughter got how the songs told the tale and how they fit together. But then she thought for a moment and said, "But that doesn't explain something. How long did it take?"

I asked her what she meant.

And she said: "I mean, did it take more or less than five years to get famous and end up committing suicide? Would he have lived longer if he had just stayed on his planet?"

Mind. Blown.

She seemed a little surprised that in listening to this album for more than 30 years, that question never occurred to me.

What if it only took him a year or two to go from homeless alien to washed-up superstar? He could have lived out his life among his loved ones and died in the comfort of his home planet. Instead he fled to an uncertain future and became the dazzling but tortured Ziggy Stardust, a journey that eventually overwhelmed him. Maybe for nothing.

That is so sad.

I can never hear The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars in the same way ever again.

It's way deeper and more melancholy than I ever dreamed.

All because of my curious, questioning PDaughter.


1 comment:

  1. Wow. That is some amazing insight by PDaughter and seems to have been anticipated by Bowie. Both the song Lazarus and the off-Broadway musical, a sequel to The Man Who Fell To Earth.


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