Bowie’s life was a work of performing art

Yesterday I finally managed to “sync” the 376 songs from my laptop onto my iPhone. These songs were courtesy of the numerous CDs owned by my friend Bruce and which I recorded  onto my laptop when I visited him a few weeks ago near Dallas. I wouldn’t care to guess what percentage of the collection I managed to copy mainly because Bruce and his companion Cindy have a vast number of discs ranging from the complete works of Led Zeppelin to more than one “Hits Of The 70s” compilations. I know I barely scratch the surface of my friends’ musical collections.

Although it might sound to the contrary, I am not a total technological idiot. But I did have trouble transferring the music from my PC laptop to my iPhone. Researching a way to do this task, I even read something which purported that it couldn’t be done. Well, it could, and it only took a few seconds while talking to an Apple tech support lady to do so.

I was about 20 miles out of town this morning, headed toward the Houston VA Hospital, where it seems I spend at least one day every two weeks, when I realized I had left my ear buds at home. I had looked at my iPhone music this morning, with an intention of listening to some of the songs on the nearly 120-mile round trip. It didn’t seem strange at all that the album up next was that space-glam-rock classic, David Bowie’s “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spider From Mars.” It wasn’t all that weird, that is, until I looked at Google News a couple of minutes later and saw the stories reporting that the musician-actor was dead.

Bowie died at age 69 after an 18-month struggle with cancer.

When “Ziggy” was first released more than 40 years ago, I was a long-haired country boy from East Texas. I had heard his “Space Oddity” (“Ground Control to Major Tom) from 1969 and it struck a cord since I had grown up with the U.S. space program and the triumph around that time of the first moon landing. A literal chord was struck during the next century by Space Station Astronaut Chris Hatfield.

Back in my little world, in the early 1970s, however, I didn’t know what to make of Bowie. Stories of him in all of his androgyny — all of this taking place during the days of the “glam rock” thing — was really not my cup of, well, Boone’s Farm.

As I grew older and experienced more of the world and musical tastes I became fond of Bowie’s music. I liked a number of his popular songs: “Young Americans,” “Rebel, Rebel,” “Changes,” among them. The album “Let’s Dance” in 1983 caught my attention in particular because Texas blues rocker Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar work on the album was mind-blowing. I saw Vaughn the first of two times in our dark-little college bar in Nacogdoches, Crossroads. From what I gathered, Vaughn had gone to Europe for work on Bowie’s LP, and it was in fact Stevie Ray’s big break. Apparently, Vaughn had made some prior commitments and there was Stevie Ray in this little club, the Crossroads, honoring his promise to play.

For all of its pitfalls, growing older has made me more appreciative of music and the genius behind it. It’s taken me many years to fully enjoy the whole of Bowie’s work, not merely a songster or writer, but whose life was one of performing art. Few like David Bowie come along. It’s cliche, but who cares — he will be missed.