Monday, January 11, 2016

So Much More Than "Blue Eyed Soul": Goodbye to David Bowie From a "Ghetto Nerd"

Travel well, David Bowie.

The color line has influenced my and our musical tastes and preferences.

Although the anonymity of the Internet has complicated that somewhat, I believe that the basic premise still holds true.

There is "white" music. There is "black" music. In America and the world, as always, those lines were blurred because of how black Americans heavily influenced most genres of American popular music. Rock and Roll, jazz, hip hop, the blues, and yes, even country, are "black" music.

America is a "mulatto" society in the best sense of the word even while too many of our white brothers and sisters run away from that fact because somehow to be a "real American" is to be "white" and not black or brown.

The joke, is, as it usually is, on them.

Unfortunately, so many of us have policed our public and admitted enjoyment of music because of the boxes that society puts us in. Cultural tastes are easily, if not often incorrectly, mapped onto racial politics in the United States and elsewhere.

I am a child of the hip hop generation. I also liked classic rock and heavy metal. To admit the latter among a certain circle of friends would have been reason for excommunication or maybe even worse. Thus, is the politics of racial authenticity. While we are different, I would not be surprised if the black and brown "ghetto nerds" and Mailer's "white negroes" may have more in common than not. The second group were for the most part tourists. The first group had to live in the house--it wasn't a plaything or refrigerator box turned into a fort for adults. Nevertheless, there is something shared by both groups. I am just not sure how to define it in a clear and precise way.

And then there is David Bowie. He transcended it all. There were black folks who may not have liked "white" music but they gave him (as well as Queen, The Police, and a few other groups) a pass and love.

Bowie was a trickster. He was so much more than "blue eyed soul". David Bowie was a master musician and artist--a white brother who played black music with such aplomb because he was channeling the shared human experience.

Bowie was the starchild and space oddity. He was also all of us.

I know that the Elder Gods are eager to embrace David Bowie as he becomes stardust. Play well and beautifully for them Mr. Bowie as you always have for we mere mortals. Till we meet again on the other side of the cosmic divide and ethereal plane.

No comments: