Segarini: David Bowie – One Final Change

bowie

I have a great many friends who are going to be devastated by the loss of David Bowie, and although not as much of a fan as some of the people I care about, I have already started to feel their pain and his loss.


Lemmy was bad enough. His passing was hurtful, unjust, and against the belief that like Keith Richards, he would outlive us all…but life has a way of handing us twists and turns, some good, some bad, but always when we least expect them. I am so impressed that Bowie kept his pain and his challenge to himself, to carry the burden, along with his family, that we all would have gladly lent our hopes and wishes and prayers, but he chose to do this with dignity and bravery…and still found the time to leave to his friends and fans, a gift of music that will now have even more impact and be treasured as his swan song, and a parting gift to the millions of people who were touched by him.
I too, was influenced and entertained by this man, and so was my writing partner and closest friend at the time, Rand Bishop, whose pain I can feel all the way from Oregon.

Many will be writing about this man for weeks, months and years to come.

I had this to say about 5 years ago in a column about “Change”…. The Thin White Duke, Ziggy Stardust, and so many others, have left the building…thanks for all the music, gentlemen…thank you for the style, the grace, and the ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

From my DBAWIS column originally posted on September 26th, 2011.
Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine. ~Robert C. Gallagher

We all know that change is the only constant in this life, which makes it so surprising to me that so many of us absolutely loathe change of any kind.

I still think milk tasted better in glass bottles, Swanson’s TV dinners tasted better when they first started out in aluminum trays, McDonald’s hamburgers were way more tasty when they were 15 cents, and why on Earth did Canada Dry quit making their Collins Mix, possibly the most refreshing and tasty soda pop of all time. Even Squirt, the next best soda, has disappeared from grocery store shelves. Why? Apparently we didn’t want those things anymore, or not enough of us did, or…somebody decided it was time for a change. Mostly, we shrug change off and carry on, or at least we used to. Now, however, we can all speak out about any and every thing that wets our pants. Music, television, movies, comic books, even Facebook, nothing is sacred, and none are immune to change

Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

When you are through changing, you are through. ~Bruce Barton

When David Bowie wrote Changes, he was about to become one of the biggest ones to hit the music world in years. After three British released LPs, 1967’s David Bowie, ’69’s Space Oddity, and ‘1970’s Man Who Sold the World, Bowie went into the studio and recorded what I consider to be his masterpiece, and, ultimately, one of the most influential records of the time, Hunky Dory.

He was without a label at the time. At the end of a visit to Eureka, California to hang out with The Wackers, Elektra Records president Jac Holzman tossed a cassette to Rand Bishop and I and said, “Give this a listen and tell me what you think. I’m thinking of signing this guy”. It was a cassette of Honky Dory. Neither one of us had ever heard of David Bowie at this point. We called Jac a few days later and told him he HAD to sign Bowie.

It was too late…RCA had scooped him up.

For someone like Bowie to write Changes makes the song even more compelling than it already was. In just a few short years, he had released 3 albums, (Hunky Dory would be his fourth) and none of them were remotely similar. Rubber Band, from his first album sounds more Broadway show tune than cutting edge pop, influenced by Anthony Newley and London’s West End stage productions. Bowie always considered himself an actor, and in a lot of ways, that’s exactly what he has been all these years.

The second LP produced the classic Space Oddity, but it also contained the first track Mick Ronson ever worked on with Bowie. Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud still smacks of Broadway, with Bowie chewing the scenery with a 50 piece orchestra egging him on. Even Space Oddity didn’t enter the mainstream spotlight until after the success of Bowie’s 5th album, Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

The last album before Hunky Dory was the odd, almost heavy metal The Man Who Sold the World. The title track even got a cover version by Nirvana. It was also the first LP with a cover that pointed directly to Bowie’s penchant for dressing up and confusing the shit out of everyone. It would be he and Marc Bolan who would introduce androgyny to the mainstream, and create a whole new species of rock called Glam.

Hunky Dory would be the record that got Bowie noticed, but even these great tunes wouldn’t get real life pumped into them until after one more change…Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars ushered in the Glam Rock movement, and made Bowie a certified superstar., but I will always be a fan of Hunky Dory’s songs, from the free fall bounce of Oh You Pretty Things to the hauntingly beautiful cinematic landscape of Life on Mars, this album is a benchmark, and even though it seemed a good place to stop, Bowie continued (and still continues) to change.

If you stop to think about it, that is what all our greatest artists have done. Change. Were there ever two Beatle albums that sounded the same? Hell, were there ever two Beatle songs that sounded the same. Our current top 40 acts should be ashamed of themselves.

bob segarini

September 26th, 2011

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Segarini’s column appears whenever he’s needed

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Tilda January 2015Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record

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