In recent days I've spent some time in remembrance and in celebration of the life and music of David Bowie, who succumbed to liver cancer six years ago on January 10. He would have also turned 75 on January 8, marking an unofficial three-day Bowie holiday this time of the year. He was a musical artist of great pop success but also of deep artistry revered for his visionary performance style, eccentric and eclectic songwriting, and his expressive forays into acting and painting. An ever-evolving Renaissance Man who will continue to inspire for generations to come, Bowie demonstrated perseverance and adaptability oh so well...
I am reminded of his 2013 album "The Next Day," his first album of new material in a decade after suffering a heart attack on stage in 2004. Recorded in extreme secrecy, it was a surprise announcement as Bowie was presumed retired from the music business. The cover art immediately drew a response. It was the same cover of his renowned 1977 album "Heroes," a surreal photo of Bowie engaged in an act of mime whose intention he only knew, but with a white box rudely overlayed in the center. Within the box, the generic black lettering of the current album title can be seen: "The Next Day." Looking inside, the album liner notes are also recycled from previous use but crossed out with the new production crew and musicians simply written above it. The same, but not the same.
Bowie was making a somewhat facetious point with the album's cover and sleeve design by saying, "Here's more of the same!" The connection to the original "Heroes" album is quite clear in this collection of brilliant tunes—an ode to his glorious past and his own mortality. He does so however with the knowledge that there is no literal going back. But the spirit of purpose, creativity and optimism still carried forward as it always had with Bowie—always a new creation.
Let's see what the Next Day will bring, shall we?
Mark Heiskanen has been Plymouth's Director of Music since September 2017. Originally from Northeast Ohio, Mark has experience and great interest in a diverse range of musical styles including jazz, rock, musical theatre, and gospel. He is thrilled to serve a congregation and staff that values diversity and inclusion in all facets of life. Mark's Music Minute can be read here.