Safe Journey, Major Tom: Remembering David Bowie

January 11, 2016 | Viveca

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David Bowie

Photo: Creative Commons

Canada woke up on Monday to hear that the legendary David Bowie had died of cancer - two days after releasing his album, Blackstar. And indeed - the stars look very different today. We are left to marvel at Bowie's incalculable influence on music, art, and style. Read a fraction of the outpouring of grief, tributes, and accolades flooding the media: Toronto Star, BBC, Telegraph, New Yorker, New York Times, Rolling Stone. Transgressive, outrageous - Bowie both embodied and embraced the outsider with infinite grace and elegance. Humane, funny and continually reinventing himself, he pushed the boundaries of art throughout his long career.  He will truly be missed - and not just for one day.


Toronto Public Library offers a rich selection of material to enjoy and explore the legacy of Bowie's work.    


 Hunky Dory Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust Aladdin Sane Diamond Dogs  
Heroes Station to Station Scary Monsters  Nothing Has Changed


Hunky Dory (1971). Life on Mars became the theme song of the British television series of the same name. Look for Queen Bitch, used brilliantly in the last scene of Wes Anderson's film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (1972). D.A. Pennebaker's 1973 concert film is hard to find - we are currently trying to source copies for the library.  Ready?  All together now: Awwww...wham bam......!

Aladdin Sane (1973). The Jean Genie. Jean Genet?  Iggy Pop?

Diamond Dogs (1974).  Bowie came to Toronto with this tour. At 14, tottering on mile-high platform shoes, cadaverously-thin like our hero, we watched him soar above us during Space Oddity.  Transcendent. Years later, I would hear my toddler whisper the countdown as Major Tom prepared for blast off on the car stereo.  

Station to Station (1976). Golden Years with The Thin White Duke.

Low (1977). First of the Berlin trilogy. Collaboration with Brian Eno.

Heroes (1977).  Bleak and beautiful.  

Scary Monsters (1980). Ashes to Ashes, Fashion

Let's Dance (1983).  Modern Love, China Girl, Let's Dance.  

Nothing Has Changed (2014).  Compilation album of Bowie's works. Includes his achingly beautiful cover of the Merseys' Sorrow from the album Pin-Ups.

Interested in learning to play Bowie's music? Check out Bill V.'s post on David Bowie's Music Scores


In the July 1998 issue of Vanity Fair, Bowie answered the Proust Questionnaire:

Q: What is your idea of perfect happiness?  A: Reading.

Check out the New York Public Library's post about David Bowie's Top 100 Reads.

David Bowie Starman Bowie on Bowie David Bowie The Golden Years Heroes David Bowie Berlin
David Bowie The Biography David Bowie Style The Man Who Sold the World

The Complete David Bowie

Bowie: Starman by Paul Trynka, 2011. 

Bowie on Bowie: Interviews and Encounters with David Bowie edited by Sean Egan, 2015.

David Bowie: The Golden Years by Roger Griffin, 2015. 

Heroes: David Bowie and Berlin by Tobias Rüther, 2014.

Bowie: the Biography by Wendy Leigh, 2014.

David Bowie Style by Danny Lewis, 2012

The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s by Peter Doggett, 2012.

The Complete David Bowie by Nicholas Pegg, 2011. 


 The Man Who Wasn't There Labyrinth  Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence Absolute Beginners

Sadly, The Man Who Fell to Earth is currently not available. If you own a copy, hang on to it. 

David Bowie: The Man Who Wasn't There, documentary, 2013.

Labyrinth directed by Jim Henson, 1986.

Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence directed by Nagisa Oshima, 1983.

Absolute Beginners directed by Julian Temple, 1986.

Basquiat directed by Julian Schnabel, 1996.


It's hard to pick one song as Bowie's signature song - but we'll go with this: 

David Bowie: 1947 - 2016


Related Posts:

Past Presentation on David Bowie at North York Central Library