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David Bowie’s Search For God

From First Things journal, February 1, 2016:

One doesn’t often find people of faith, especially conservatives, rallying around an entertainer who became famous for dressing up as an androgynous rock-star named Ziggy Stardust, singing, “Rebel, Rebel,” and pushing musical expression to its outer limits. And yet, when David Bowie died last month of cancer, at the age of 69, Christians were among the first to send out their condolences and tributes.

Born and raised in South London, Bowie was a precocious child who took to the arts naturally, and immersed himself in music and dance. After seeing him entertain audiences when he was just nine, teachers marveled at his talents, and said his artistic interpretations were “astonishing.” His performances as a teenager were described as “mesmerizing . . . like someone from another planet.” When young David announced to his parents he planned to become a pop star, they quickly saw to it that he was hired as an electrician’s assistant. Needless to say, that phase of his life didn’t last long, and Bowie went on to become one of the most iconic British artists of his generation.

Enigmatic in life, as he now is in death, many continue to misread him. According to Spin magazine, which celebrates alternative music and lifestyles, “Bowie was all about sex: He exuded it, he defied it, he refused to conform to its norms.” Many of Bowie’s harshest critics would undoubtedly agree. But this is to take a very selective view of his career, overlooking Bowie’s best work, and the dramatic changes he underwent as he matured. 

Space Oddity, his first great song, is about many things—space travel, the wonders of the universe, isolation, and the fear of losing touch, not just with planet earth, but with reality itself. The mellifluous Changes is about defying expectations, and setting your own course in life, regardless of what critics think. The stirring Heroes is a Cold War love story about two people determined to lift each other up, despite the oppression and hopelessness around them. And Fameco-written with John Lennonis a cautionary, even caustic, tale about celebrity, and its fleeting enchantments. None of these classics are “all about sex,” but deal with issues far more significant than Spin imagines. 

That Bowie’s songs often conveyed an implicit, if not overt, spirituality is a fact mentioned by many who remembered him. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, the Vatican’s cultural minister, wrote an entire column on the Christian themes in Bowie’s lyrics, notably in his album, Station to Station, when he was suffering through a painful period of addiction, and wrote the stunningly beautiful, Word on a Wing, which contained the prayer: “Lord, I kneel and offer you my word on a wing/and I’m trying hard to fit among your scheme of things.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Happy Sunday.

{sunday} T. Wendell Peek ~ Nature Study

Nothing wants to suffer. Not the wind 
as it scrapes itself against the cliff. Not the cliff

being eaten, slowly, by the sea. The earth does not want
to suffer the rough tread of those who do not notice it.

The trees do not want to suffer the axe, nor see 
their sisters felled by root rot, mildew, rust.  

The coyote in its den. The puma stalking its prey. 
These, too, want ease and a tender animal in the mouth 

to take their hunger. An offering, one hopes,  
made quickly, and without much suffering. 

The chair mourns an angry sitter. The lamp, a scalded moth. 
A table, the weight of years of argument. 

We know this, though we forget. 

Not the shark nor the tiger, fanged as they are. 
Nor the worm, content in its windowless world 

of soil and stone. Not the stone, resting in its riverbed. 
The riverbed, gazing up at the stars. 

Least of all, the stars, ensconced in their canopy, 
looking down at all of us— their offspring— 

scattered so far beyond reach.

Nothing Wants to Suffer by Danusha Laméris

after Linda Hogan

Happy Sunday.

Another lucky musical discovery … enjoy!

Sona Jobarteh & Band – Kora Music from West Africa

Barbara duBois ~ Drunken Photographer Decanted

Dat Klavier dat hät jesoffe – Köln 1993 LIVE

The piano has been drinking, my necktie is asleep
And the combo went back to new york, the jukebox has to take a leak
And the carpet needs a haircut, and the spotlight looks like a prison break
And the telephone’s out of cigarettes, and the balcony is on the make
And the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking

And the menus are all freezing, and the light man’s blind in one eye
And he can’t see out of the other
And the piano-tuner’s got a hearing aid, and he showed up with his mother
And the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking
As the bouncer is a sumo wrestler cream-puff Casper milktoast
And the owner is a mental midget with the i.q. of a fence post
Cause the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking

And you can’t find your waitress with a Geiger counter
And she hates you and your friends and you just can’t get served without her
And the box-office is drooling, and the bar stools are on fire
And the newspapers were fooling, and the ash-trays have retired
Cause the piano has been drinking, the piano has been drinking
The piano has been drinking, not me, not me, not me, not me, not me

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