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The Man Who Fell To Earth

I had just got up yesterday, nipped across the road to buy my newspapers and returned to make a cup of tea when – switching the BBC1 morning show on the television – I first caught the news about the passing of rock star David Bowie.

For the rest of the day it seemed as if the UK airwaves had been given over to obituaries, appreciations, phone-in programmes, Twitter reactions and tributes from everyone from former collaborators, associates and band members to public figures and even David Cameron.

No lack of respect to the man intended, but I’ve got to be honest: while many of those I heard or saw were touching, relevant and insightful, a whole lot more played to me as banal and trite.

The overall effect gradually wore down my interest factor and well before lunch I’d had enough of the surfeit of gush.

Not that this stopped anyone. By the afternoon even female radio presenters in their thirties at most (and who therefore would have been born about the time Bowie was edging towards his later periods) were speaking in hushed reverential tones as if a senior member of the Royal Family had pegged it.

Last night one contributor to something I was watching on the BBC placed Mr Bowie’s death as an ‘everybody remembering where they were when they heard of it’ moment to rank alongside the deaths of JFK, Elvis, John Lennon and Princess Diana.

Separately, respectable (middle-aged and older) media presenters and sages such as Nicky Campbell, Jeremy Vine, Paul Gambaccini and …. er … Piers Morgan [yes, I know I’m stretching it a bit here] queued up to marvel at Mr Bowie’s all-encompassing impact upon the world of music, arts, fashion, movies and British society itself.

One of them even described him as the greatest British artist of the 20th Century.

Heady stuff – and, to an extent, anyone with a pulse could not fail to have to been impressed yesterday by the seemingly worldwide tsunami of regret, sadness and reflection that this death of a British pop icon had prompted.

I know I was.

That said, I never ‘got’ Bowie. He was one of those major 1960s/1970s British pop stars of  my late teens and early twenties – another was Elton John – whose persona, creativity and style just never appealed to me in the way that it would have needed to if it was ever going to inspire my devotion.

For me, yes – Bowie produced half a dozen or so classic songs, but that was about it. The funny thing is that – for me at least – many of his supposed best and/or most-popular ones (e.g. Starman, Life on Mars?, Rebel Rebel, China Girl, Ziggy Stardust, John, I’m Only Dancing and even Space Oddity, to name but a handful) left me as cold as the Arctic snow.

But that is just me, of course.


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About Bryn Thomas

After a longer career in travel agency than he would care to admit, Bryn became a freelance review of hotels and guest houses at the suggestion of a former client and publisher. He still travels and writes for pleasure. More Posts