Sunday, December 25, 2016
Albums of the Year # 1 David Bowie
On Friday 8th January this year I attended an event at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle where the new David Bowie album Blackstar was played in full on the day of its release. I was surrounded by friends who'd attended these events called The Record Player with me previously over a number of years. It was hosted by a man, who's a lifelong Bowie fanatic.It was universally accepted by the audience and the host himself at the end of its playing that it was an all round magnificent object. How little we knew!
A couple of days later on the Monday morning I woke up, checked the internet as I customarily do, to discover that Bowie had died. It seemed like an absolutely massive, almost unprecedented event in music but also in history. For those of us who cared, Bowie is such a deeply important figure and his music so centrally significant to so many of us in terms of memory, experience and the way we've come to understand the world, that his death led to a strange global ritual of both grief and celebration.
And of course the true messages of his last record slotted into place on repeated listening. Such an artfully timed and premeditated statement. Of course it's Number 1 on the chart here! There was no other contender really although the Radiohead album is pretty damned good. But then they'll go on to make other records. I haven't listened to Blackstar much, because as much as it's a record about life it's also about a particular artistic embrace of death which is not something I want on my turntable generally at the end of a day at work but I'm listening to it now at the end of the most turbulent year historically and politically that I can remember in my lifetime and who better than Bowie to act as its musical curator and provide its ultimate soundtrack.