David Bowie, the pop singer, songwriter, and actor, is dead at age 69. His death came after an 18-month battle with cancer. I never cared for his particular style or genre of music, but I know that he was one of the most original and singular voices in rock and roll music for nearly five decades.
You will be able to see the great gulf fixed between my popular musical preferences and David Bowie’s musical artistry when I name those for whom I had a penchant in my earlier years.
When I was a teenager – decades ago – I enjoyed some of the popular music of that era. Elvis was center stage and the rage of most of my peers. His “Jailhouse Rock,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” and “Love Me Tender” were played in jukeboxes and on radio stations everywhere.
I liked Elvis all right, but much preferred the music of Pat Boone. His “April Love,” “Bernadine,” and “Love Letters in the Sand” suited me far better than the music and gyrations of old swivel hips. You could also count the songs of Frankie Avalon, Bobby Darin, and Ricky Nelson among my favorite musical artists of the day.
Then from Great Britain, all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, came The Beatles with their melodious and harmonious sound and a beat that changed the face and sound of popular music for the next generation. Another British band, The Rolling Stones eventually created their own sound by experimenting with instruments and writing rhythm and blues mixed with rock and roll. I was neither a Beatles nor a Rolling Stones fan.
David Bowie followed the preceding popular music icons with music marked by musical innovations and visual presentations that didn’t impress me as either appealing or wholesome.
BBC News reported, “From the sexually liberated vantage point of the 2016, it is easy to forget how bizarre and outrageous Bowie seemed in the 1970s. While his impressionist lyrics had a constant theme – he was an outsider, an alien, a sexually ambiguous spectre.”
The New York Daily News reported, “Bowie initially proclaimed he was gay and then later amended it to being bisexual but perhaps he put it best in a 1997 radio interview when he said, “I was hitting on everybody. I had a wonderfully irresponsible promiscuous time.”
In spite of Bowie’s apparent promiscuous lifestyle, some of his comments indicate that he often thought about spiritual matters. On one occasion he said, “I’m in awe of the universe, but I don’t necessarily believe there’s an intelligence or agent behind it. I do have a passion for the visual in religious rituals, though, even though they may be completely empty and bereft of substance. The incense is powerful and provocative, whether Buddhist or Catholic.”
On another occasion he commented, “As you get older, the questions comes down to about two or three. How long? And what do I do with the time I’ve got left?”
Just two days before his death Bowie released his last song, “Lazarus,” which opens with the lyrics, “Look up here, I’m in heaven!” It was a carefully orchestrated farewell to his fans, but his lifestyle would cause one to wonder if he had any kind of saving relationship with the only One who can redeem a lost soul.
I do not know whether Bowie made the following statement near the time of his death or not, but at one time he did say, “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”
Nothing is more tragic than living your whole life and not having any idea about where you are going after death. However, there are two eternal destinies – heaven and hell; and I am certain neither is boring. Heaven will be a place of blessing and worship and praise and bliss and discovery and joy. There will not be one second of boredom or monotony.
On the other hand, hell will be a place of vile associations, pain, anguish, torment, horror, and agony; and it is unlikely that there will be any boredom in that place of eternal retribution. If there is, it will be a boredom born out of the everlasting torment and the futility of seeking in vain a way of escape.