Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Ithaca. Rachel. Sheba. Godot.

There are some things you have to wait for. You have to wait to be a grownup. You have to wait to find your home. You have to wait to find someone to love (if you are lucky enough to ...). We all wait for death.

Some waiting is by choice.

I waited for Blackstar.

When David Bowie died, it was such a big deal, as much as I wanted to observe it and remember all he's meant to me, I retreated from the massive outpouring. When people make a Big Story all about themselves, it seems distasteful, and so I kept my response less fulsome than I have a tendency to be.

I also could not bear the fine point - the poignard - of listening to his last music.

Today at work, the radio was just too wretched to bear. It stinks every day; some borrowed morning show from another city in the morning, and what passes for rock these days is just sad. (Ahh, the privilege of chronological/cultural superiority!) So I put on my ear buds, fired up YouTube, and bumped around a bit.

And let myself search for Blackstar.

And the sound of David's dying voice.

After that, I needed this.

David Bowie's skill with anthemic, literally hair-raising crescendo, his ability to rise and rise and carry a crowd of tens of thousands - of millions, around the world, in the song above - never, ever ceases to astound me. I choose the word astound because it resonates with profound, which is an interesting thing, because honestly he is a shameless dramatic. He uses devices we all see coming - and they work anyway.

Five Years is one of those songs. It builds and builds until you respond whether you want to or not. Diamond Dogs as an album, by each individual track, and certainly the title song, are all waves; you see a distant swell that looks so gentle, and then it looms upon you, and it breaks.

Bowie was shameless.

Freddie Mercury was the same.

I adore shameless, dramatic music. I *want* to succumb to it. I want it to have its way with me. I want to feel the tingling I do every time the Brandenberg Concerto does that one thing that reminds me so completely, so cruelly and so sublimely, of my dad. I want Symphony X to get me to Ithaca, because I know Odysseus personally, and I want him home. I want to be made to cry.

I don't want to go where David Bowie went, when he made Blackstar.

But holy hell, I am grateful he was willing to. That he let us hear his weak, his old voice. That he LIFTED it. That he never stopped doing that. Ever. And spoke to us his final artistic statement.

People talk about rock gods - idols - and he has been said to have all but invented the concept (as have others).

But what he did was an offering to us.

Now I need to go listen to Freddie sing. Because now I want to succumb to smiling. Nobody makes me joyous quite like Freddie Mercury and Queen (Though the inconceivably dorky tambourine guy in the clip embedded above is good for a grin).

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