The Ongoing History of New Music, Episode 744: Remembering David Bowie, Part 1

The sound of a text coming through at 2:15 in the morning. What was so important that it couldn’t wait until morning? It was either a wrong number–or it was bad news. Very bad news.

It turned out to be the latter. A friend in LA had just confirmed that David Bowie had died and thought I should know.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Bowie was supposed to be one of the immortals, someone who would always be with us. After all, he’d been making music through six decades. There are several generations of music fans who have never known music without Bowie being in there somewhere.

Yes, he’s been almost entirely out of site for a decade, but we knew he was there. He released an album in 2013 to much critical acclaim. And hadn’t he released another album three days ago? How could he be dead? No, there must be some mistake. Probably just an Internet hoax. But as soon as my computer booted up, I could see that it was all very, very true.

He died of cancer? He had cancer?

And so began weeks of mourning all over the world.

Look, I realize that if you’re of a certain age, Bowie might be as foreign to you as some big band leader of the 1930s. He was an old guy that belonged to another generation like Elvis or John Lennon. You might even feel that way about Kurt Cobain? Michael Jackson? You get why that was important. But this Bowie guy? Why did people make such a big deal out of his dying? Isn’t this just another Baby Boomer sob story?

No, it’s not. Here’s a line I’ve repeated again and again over the years: If you take any contemporary artist–and I don’t care which one–and you draw a line from that artist into the past, that line will inevitably, unavoidably intersect with Bowie. Something he did, something he touched, something he influenced. No matter where you star, all roads lead to Bowie.

If you are to understand anything about today’s music, you need to acknowledge this. Fans already know what I’m talking about. If you’re still uncertain, you need to listen to this program. I will explain why Bowie does and always will matter, even if you’ve never heard a single one of his songs.

The playlist for part one of “Remembering David Bowie”

  1. Starman
  2. Liza Jane (from Davy Jones and the King Bees)
  3. Space Oddity (demo version)
  4. Changes
  5. Ziggy Stardust
  6. The Jean Genie
  7. Rebel Rebel
  8. Fame

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Vancouver, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

If you’re in the US and you want to stream the show, I wish I could help. A performing rights organization called SESAC has made threatening noises about suing non-American radio stations who dare stream into the US without paying crazy fees. Most Canadian broadcasters had no choice but to geo-block their streams. But hey, if you know of an American station that would like to take the show, contact me and we’ll make it a priority.

Oh, and good news: The show will start running on OneFM in Singapore in May. From there. we’re hoping to go deeper into Asia and the make a run at Australia and New Zealand.

Anyone else? Love to hear from you. Just email me at [email protected].


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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