Rant: Why David Bowie is an inspiration and shouldn’t come out of retirement.
A little while ago I read an article about David Bowie being photographed going to get his lunch. This isn’t usually something that would make the news. Perhaps it would make the news if Lady Gaga were to buy a sandwich and find a way to wear it, slapping some ham on her bosom and wiping mustard in her hair. Or Rihanna would buy a baguette only to simulate a lewd act with it. Both of them would surely follow this attention-grabbing behaviour by then taking a poor quality snap of it on their phones and posting it on Twitter, where they would then be called inspirational. However, David put his lunch (I can’t be sure it’s a sandwich and there’s no need to speculate) in a little bag and took it away to be eaten in privacy.
The reason Bowie made the news was simply for being spotted in public. NME called it a ‘rare public appearance’. To me, public appearance would mean some kind of performance or signing, at least wanting to be seen, not wearing sun glasses, a flat cap and a hoodie and minding your own business. Are they suggesting that since he had heart surgery eight years ago, he hasn’t left the house? I’m sure that isn’t the case; a man of David’s wealth is unlikely to spend all his time at home wearing a onesie and watching E4.
David Bowie should be applauded for stepping out of the limelight. He has achieved the dream that all of us earthlings have: earn enough money to last a life time, then retire and live off it. He occasionally turns up to do a one-off gig, such as that with Arcade Fire, or some backing vocals, but aside from that, he’s having a well-deserved rest.
Yet there are some people who want Bowie to reappear and deliver another album of pure gold. Every time a large-scale national event is coming up, rumours begin to circulate that Bowie will make a huge comeback and perform one of his classics, presumably in a catsuit and platform shoes while little people dressed as spacemen and goblins dance around him. The jubilee concert was a no-show. Did people expect to see Bowie performing alongside JLS and Cheryl Cole, or singing a duet with Ed Sheeran?
Next came the Olympics opening and a tribute to Bowie was performed, with dancers wearing Ziggy Stardust masks while some of his mashed up hits were played in the background. It was a bit odd that a tribute was performed for someone living, but it was nice for the UK to show off David to everyone watching abroad. Then a couple of weeks later in the closing ceremony, ‘Fashion’ started playing and my ears pricked up, only for Kate Moss to be towed into the stadium by a tractor.
It later emerged in the press that Bowie was, of course, asked to do it but turned it down. And rightly so. He’s a 65 year old man. Even true king of pop, George Michael, at a spritely 49 years old, looked depressingly old when he got on stage and did his funny little dance (although 7th best pop song ever ‘Freedom’ injected some 80’s piano joy into the proceedings).
David Bowie released a hugely important and influential back catalogue during his career and has one of the best Greatest Hits albums in pop and rock history but he thankfully retired from the scene before he destroyed his own legacy (despite a few blips towards the end). Nobody wanted to see a fat Elvis and it’s nice for someone in the music industry to be conscious of this.
As much as I love Debbie Harry and Blondie, when I saw her performing live, even though the music was great, it shattered the illusion of the saucy blonde minx who still pouts at me from my iPod. More obviously highlighting his need for retirement was Paul McCartney at the Olympics. Seeing him stumble through ‘Hey Jude’ was a terribly sad sight, yet he still turns up at any event to finish everyone off when they were already edging towards slumber. Finally, and perhaps most needing of a quiet life in New York eating sandwiches in silence, is dear old Brian May, always happy at any opportunity to pimp out the name Queen, whether it’s playing guest guitar on the singles of the youth of today (even Dappy!), selling Freddie Mercury’s soul in hologram form, or allowing absolutely anybody to turn a Queen classic into a slut anthem.
For those who demand new material from Bowie and want him to make non-lunch related ‘public appearances’, nobody in their right mind would try to work under that amount of pressure, and just think of what has been done to the legacies of Queen and the Beatles. Click that last link if you’re brave enough and you’ll see what I mean. I salute Bowie, he’s grown old, married a supermodel and retained dignity, and is now, I can only assume, living the life he wasted when he was taking all those nasty drugs at his prime. Finally, for those who think he is in ill health, see the picture below and compare him now to then, then try telling me he looks fragile now.