Do you have a little soundtrack of songs providing a soundtrack to your life, running through the back of your mind? I was once told that I have a song for every occasion and I guess that’s true. I like to link memories to songs and along the way I’ve learned there are people that do that, and people who don’t. I’ve formed some strong connections with friends over the joyful belting out of much-loved lyrics and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Author Nick Hornby’s 31 Songs, essays on his favourite or most memorable tunes, encapsulated that thought for me. His love letter to pop music and the particular 31 Songs that have shaped his life got me thinking about my own. And I was intending to do a little series on the blog along the same lines. However yesterday something happened that spurred me into action sooner.
Yesterday was the day David Bowie died. I actually gasped when I saw the news. Though I was never a dedicated fan in the truest sense I certainly appreciate his enormous impact on the music industry, not to mention our overall cultural experiences. There are many people who will describe this more eloquently and comprehensively, so I’ll leave it at that. Suffice to say, it is a huge loss.
For some reason I decided that reminiscing Ziggy Stardust via Spotify was not going to do the man justice. So I turned the radio on to BBC Radio 6 and let the presenters guide me through Bowie’s enormous body of work and the outpouring of emotion. They did an amazing job of reflecting the mood of the people. You can listen to Lauren Laverne’s show here.
There is something inherently British about the way musicians are revered as part of the fabric of life and the country’s culture. Not far from where we live a crowd gathered in Brixton to sing in the street in tribute to Bowie. You can see some footage of their singalong here. At our local tube station the quote of the day was from Nature Boy. I witnessed similar scenes when I was visited London in 2009 when Michael Jackson passed away and saw similar scenes outside the O2 arena.
This brings me to my favourite Bowie song. Heroes was written and recorded in Berlin. Though I was a small child when it was originally released in 1977, I have memories of seeing Bowie’s performance of the song at the Concert for Berlin prior to the fall of the wall and the collapse of the Iron Curtain. It was 1987 and you could feel the momentum building for change. This song captured the mood of the people and helped bring down the wall – something acknowledged by the German government yesterday.
— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) January 11, 2016
I went on to study modern European history at university inspired by the feelings and hope for change I felt during this time.
Politics aside, Heroes is a soaring anthem that is cited as being hugely influential on some of the bands I would grow to love including Depeche Mode, Oasis and The Smiths. So it seems fitting that this post, the first in a series about my musical heroes, features this song.
I’ll sign off now promising to fill you in on a few other songs that feature in the soundtrack to my life and interested to hear the story of yours. RIP David Bowie.