Editor’s Pick: Five Years Without Bowie

In a way, it seems like yesterday, waking up to that horrible news, just one day after waking up to his new recording on our phones. A new record, “Blackstar,” came out on his birthday, and the next day he was gone. But it also seems like a lifetime ago, because of all the horrible things that have happened since.

A really moving remembrance in today’s New York Times:

It does feel as though things began to fall apart with Bowie’s death. World events slid from bad to worse, and from there it has all been one long downhill slalom that has exceeded the bounds of sense (and even satire) and avalanched into this: hateful violence, political chaos, insurrection and the grinding gruesomeness of the pandemic present.

From “What Would David Bowie Do?” by Simon Critchley.

And we’re also looking back at Steven S. Drachman’s musings a few years ago, in these pages, which made a similar point, even before the pandemic:

He stuck around to celebrate his birthday, release his last album, and then he departed the planet Earth the next day. The planet seemed to come unmoored from its orbit during the next twelve months without Bowie to anchor it. You know what I mean.

From “For David Bowie, on the Anniversary of his Death and Birth” by Steven S. Drachman, with art by Jackie Nett

Classical radio station WQXR remembers Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy with a stream of a performance from 2018:

This week which marks the anniversary of Bowie’s birth and death, we’re celebrating David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy – Low, “Heroes”, and Lodger – with a five-part series of music recorded in October 2018 at Brookfield Place. Each night opened with members of the versatile New York-based Wordless Music Orchestra performing works that Bowie was listening to at the time or that might have influenced his sound world. These “setting the context” works were followed by the all-star cast of musicians led by Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiberg who performed their arrangements of the three records.

From “David Bowie Week, Part 5 – Inspirations and Related Works

In the years since his death, there is the usual attempt to rewrite his legacy, to smooth out the inevitable artistic failings, which were so rare in Bowie’s career. The worst, so far, was the attempt to re-do Bowie’s “Never Let Me Down” album, to re-position the blame. But it is important to remember Bowie as human, with at least a few misfires in a life of triumphs. Here are a few thoughts on that.

Finally, you can stream Bowie’s stage show, “Lazarus,” this weekend only. It’s a musical sequel to the science fiction film, The Man who Fell to Earth, which starred Bowie back in 1975, and was itself based on a novel by Walter Tevis, who wrote The Queen’s Gambit.

Image by Matthew Davis / Unstock