David Bowie hurled off back into space two weeks ago but no one here on earth seems to have recovered from his departure. Even at the close of the Iowa Caucases, the Bernie Sanders campaign saw fit to play the David Bowie hit “Star Man” as the Democratic candidate worked the room after his (sort-of) victory speech. David Itzkoff of the New York Times was seemingly the first to notice, tweeting the music selection with a crying emoji.
The passing of the world’s favorite Space Oddity has surfaced forgotten songs, touching stories and a few snippets of rare video–everyone has a new favorite, or an old guilty pleasure song they don’t feel embarrassed about loving now (Mine is Absolute Beginners, which is so soaringly sweet and earnest and romantic it didn’t seem right to love it when I was young). The only thing wrong with this song is the garish color clips from the film which interrupt Bowie’s moody noir love song to the mysterious zebra girl.
Another song and video which if not a guilty pleasure might simply be qualified as guilty is China Girl. While the Iggy Pop version was always superior, watching the David Bowie version in his video makes you wonder this song is okay to play at all on modern day radio—especially in this clip which ends in Bowie making “slanty eye” gestures!
And one that still will never really feel ok, no matter how steeped in 80′s nostalgia you may be, is the Motown-driven Modern Love. A look at the video for that reveals unbearable hair, a giant floppy suit, and the pinnacle of upbeat New Wave silliness.
If Iggy Pop had done this song first as he did China Girl, would it be infused with enough darkness to make it bearable? Even his massive hit Let’s Dance has the good grace to portend the end of the world.
All things 80′s about David Bowie are redeemed however in moments like this clip of Heroes from Live Aid in 1985. Sure, the song was already a dozen years old–but this performance could have only happened in the 80′s–and his pompodour and white suit work while he sweats and feels the love of 100,000 fans at Wembley Stadium. You gotta love the sheer giddiness of it–the New Wave saxophone babe holding his hand, the whirling dervish tamourine boy, the back up singers exuding oure joy—it’s a long way from the low down cool longing of the original song (We’ll just be heroes for one day, after all). But man, what a moment.
The other amazing thing to come of this moment are a thousand heartfelt tributes after Bowie died. On January 16, Bruce Springsteen took to the stage and told about how much he missed his dear friend David Bowie and how Bowie had been a supporter of Bruce’s early on–he did covers of Growing Up and Hard to be a Saint in the City from Greetings from Asbury Park after all. The moment in this clip when Bruce launches into Rebel Rebel, and Little Steven steps like a goon from out of the shawdows, is magic.