Remembering David Bowie With Four Recent Reads
David Bowie has been gone for a year now, and for those of us whose lives have been profoundly affected by him it’s not easy. As his fans and admirers continue to experience a pronounced melancholy over his death, we are heartened by the fact that his legacy continues to evolve right in front of us.
Bowie’s willingness to challenge gender identification, rebellious individualism and intellectual curiosity have served as an inspiration for a new generation of musicians, artists, fashion designers, filmmakers and playwrights, who continue to push the limits of creativity and expression. Over the last year, the passing of time has seen an emphasis on David Bowie’s ongoing impact on modern popular culture, manifesting into the printed word, with stories that take readers along for a trip that is both mournful and emphatic in defining his importance as a cultural icon.
Here are four books, released within the last year, which help us better define David Bowie’s mark on our world.
1/ On Bowie
Rob Sheffield, Harper Collins
Rolling Stone contributor and “Love Is A Mixtape” author Rob Sheffield was of the first ones out of the gate in 2016 with his personal tribute to Bowie, whose life had profound resonance on his career as a writer.
Sheffield’s book hits home with two themes: Bowie’s connection to his art and how he maintained a lasting bond of respect and admiration with critics and fans. There’s a rawness of emotion as Sheffield lays out why Bowie matters and why he is so deeply loved. His accolades and reflections act as the perfect salve for those who still feel lost by his death.
The narrative manages to eschew the traditional confines of a critic writing about an artist. Instead, the book morphs into something else completely, a heartfelt definition of what it means to live in a world where Bowie’s innovation and music have shaped individual attitudes and identity.
2/ The Age of Bowie
Paul Morley, Gallery Books
As one of the curators of the “David Bowie Is…” exhibition currently traveling the globe, UK music writer Paul Morley sits on a perfect perch to examine how Bowie made art, by culling and crafting his many influences and interests into something fresh.
The book reveals that publicly, Bowie was a chameleon, never afraid of shedding his skin to redefine his aesthetic. The Thin White Duke was also a bold, daring and calculated virtuoso who partied hard and enjoyed the perks of his fame before aging gracefully into a more nuanced performer, comfortable in his own shoes.
The joy of “The Age of Bowie” is that it encapsulates the significance of Bowie’s musical heirlooms while also touching on his collective body of work in other mediums. It also also probes his collaborative work with peers like Iggy Pop and Brian Eno, as well as showing his continued influence on contemporary musicians.
3/ Spider From Mars: My Life with Bowie
Woody Woodmansey, St. Martin’s Press
From 1969 to 1973 Woodmansey lived alongside Bowie as the drummer for the Spiders From Mars, playing on four of his greatest albums.
In a new book out this month, the last surviving band member of this important era in Bowie’s career reveals what it was like to be a part of his entourage during this period.
As reflected here, his time with Bowie was filled with a lot of good times and hard work. Ever the perfectionist, he notes that despite his relentless lifestyle, Bowie worked hard to achieve the sound he wanted, resulting in a stunning collection of early material. In addition to chronicling his path to the hot and heavy world of rock and roll, Woodmansey’s riveting memoir is sincere and honest without being overtly scandalous or sensationalized.
Steve Schapiro, Powerhouse Books
“Bowie” features a collection of photos of Bowie taken by the iconic photographer Steve Schapiro, whose résumé includes pictures of Hollywood legends, film sets, political figures and the Civil Rights Movement.
Schapiro first met Bowie for a session in 1974, and the rest is, as they say, magic. The two kindred spirits hit it off and subsequently created a visual testament to Bowie’s meshing of fashion and imagery to create a visual narrative.
Released last spring, “Bowie” features the results of their meetings; an opulence of riches with over 100 photos, many of which are being seen for the very first time, including snapshots that would later be used for album artwork for Bowie’s iconic records “Station to Station” and “Low.”