MY MUSICAL ‘DEMIGODS’
Christopher David Tookey, Former Film and Video Critic, ‘Daily Mail’:
“The one other thing I remember about David Bowie was that he didn’t have much confidence in his own voice. He knew that he sounded like Anthony Newley but was relaxed about that. Oddly enough, Newley hated this “imitation” and when Bowie sent him a copy of an early record, Newley destroyed the record and never thanked him. At the time I knew him, Bowie didn’t see himself as sufficiently “rock and roll” to succeed. He was funny, well-spoken, obviously intelligent (I was amazed when he told me he’d failed the 11+, which made me wonder about the whole exam) and wrote extremely literate lyrics from personal experiences. I liked that, but David had been and would continue to be scarred by record companies telling him he had no place in the music industry. Bowie thought his future might lie in writing musicals for other people to sing. When that didn’t materialise and both his parents had died (his mother Peggy last), he went the other route we all know about now, and invented a glam, bisexual persona and then several others, which turned him into a “character” he could relate to, but not be. Paradoxically, he could find his own voice by pretending to be someone else. As for his bisexuality, when I knew him he was, er, rampantly heterosexual. I am not sure how much of his “gayness” was affectation.”
Absolutely, seriously fascinating!!!
“….David Bowie…he didn’t have much confidence in his own voice…”
“…At the time I knew him, Bowie didn’t see himself as sufficiently “rock and roll” to succeed…”
“…David had been and would continue to be scarred by record companies telling him he had no place in the music industry…”
…..and despite all of that, and I guess despite a lot of other ‘hurdles’, he overcame, he found his place and he came through…
Some words/thoughts in the air here….honesty, truth, knowing yourself, self-discovery, moving forward, burning desire/need, appetite….and, it’s becoming more clear to me, in the case of Bowie, genius, brilliance, uniqueness, star quality, greatness, immortality…..godliness (??):
These gifts, they’ll always be with us, they haven’t left us…Bowie, Sinatra, Lennon, Harrison, Beethoven, Bolan, Dury, Elvis, Plant/Page (Jimmy, not Elaine!), Porter, Michael Jackson, Art Tatum, Buddy Rich, Tormé, Astaire, Mozart, the Gershwins, Tony Bennett, Van Heusen/Burke, Winehouse…..the list goes on….the artists, the creators, the musicians…and the dancers, the actors, the writers, these colours, these lights in our lives, the magic carpets which carry us off to our places of solitude, to our retreats, where we connect with our sanity, where we really are, so much of their soul, their very being, their essence, is in their work, the legacy they leave us, they are immortal, to and for us, they never die. I/we talk of them in the present tense.
I’m not a ‘believer’, there isn’t a ‘God’ in my religious, or any other, way of life but I find/feel/experience spirituality in music — if I did believe in God, I would see and feel the connect between music and the heavens, I would feel that musicians like this are blessed and have been touched by ‘God’. I sometimes feel that what music does to and for me is the one thing that stops me from being able to fully cut my ties with my faith and belief in a ‘God’…maybe, just maybe, that makes me, by definition, a ‘pantheist’ (as opposed to a theist or a deist).
Pantheists, basically, in essence, equate godliness with nature. Pantheists don’t view god as a separate, distinct, supernatural being. I’m atheist in the sense that I don’t believe in a supernatural theistic or deistic supernatural being, I don’t believe in a divine creator who intervenes in our lives nor do I believe in a supernatural creator who stands back and lets us get on with it. I do sense, however, my ‘irrelevance’ in the great scheme of things, I do believe that nature and the universe are beyond our comprehension and that there are ‘forces’ that are so mind boggling and powerful that they are of godly proportions.
Music is, for me, ‘tied up’ with that indescribable, pantheistic, cosmic, spiritual sphere…music is part of it. Mozart, Holst, Rachmaninov, Phil Collins (just kidding!!), Sinatra, Elvis, Bowie, McCartney, Porter, Van Heusen/Burke/Cahn, the Gershwins, Astaire, Ashkenazi, Horowitz, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Jimmy Page, Nelson Riddle, Billy May, Robert Plant, Chet Baker, Ella….and the list goes on….they aren’t ‘godly’ in the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent etc sense, of course — Frank Sinatra, my ‘no.1′, was not a perfect human being!!! George Michael, he is a seriously and substantially flawed character but, musically, he is a genius — this lyric, for instance:
“You smiled at me like Jesus to a child”,
that, to me, is genius — it is so beautiful, George really nailed it.
(“I Get A Kick Out Of You”)
“Some, they may go for cocaine.
I’m sure that if I took even one sniff
it would bore me terrif-ically, too.
Yes, I get a kick out of you.”
(you have to listen to Frank singing it to appreciate the depth/extent of the genius in those lines).
….and these lyrics from Cole Porter (“I Concentrate On You”):
“Whenever skies look grey to me
And trouble begins to brew
Whenever the winter winds become too strong
I concentrate on you
When fortune cries “Nay, nay” to me
And people declare “You’re through”
Whenever the blues become my only songs
I concentrate on you
On your smile, so sweet, so tender
When at first my kiss you do decline
On the light in your eyes when you surrender
And once again our arms intertwine
And so when wise men say to me
That love’s young dream never comes true
To prove that even the wise men can be wrong
I concentrate on you”
…..and perfection…the stars are aligned: Frank, Van Heusen/Burke, Gordon Jenkins and a magical orchestra:
….more ‘godly’ genius…Art Tatum, to all intents and purposes, blind:
Bill Evans and Chet Baker, jazz legends, geniuses (in my humble opinion)….perfect human beings?? Far, far from it — wrecked by drugs (including heroin) and their character flaws and weaknesses. No, as humans, our music demigods are as flawed and imperfect as the mere mortals with whom they share this planet but they are ‘touched’ by greatness, Their ‘genius’ is not something I can touch….I can sense it, enjoy it, be moved and transported by it, I know it’s there like I know that the stars are in the sky but I don’t have their ‘magic’….they are musical demigods, they inhabit a place that is beyond my conceptualising and I feel ‘blessed’ to have them and their music in my life.