Music History

What Bowie’s Death Has Revealed About Us As a Generation of Music Lovers

[This post comes courtesy AJoMT writer, Juliette Jagger. – AC]

It’s been interesting to witness the outpour of emotion over the death of David Bowie this past week. Even more interesting is what it says about us as people in 2016.

 We now live in world where our way of showing collective grief is through a language of Facebook likes. A world in which we post pictures of our dead as a way of saying, “I knew him or her on some sort of level.” In Bowie’s case, perhaps that’s true, but I think we’d all be lying if we said we’ve never wondered if joining the conversation was a selfish act. Or if commenting and sharing in the wake of someone else’s passing, someone we’ve never actually met, is self-serving or just a byproduct of our shared heartache. In a “digital world,” it can be hard to know.

 While Bowie’s death has come on like an uncomfortable silence that’s still hanging in the air, it has also revealed something important and true about where we are at right now as a generation of music lovers. I think our actions are much more about wanting to belong than they are about wanting to capitalize on the passing of the moment and though we live in a sick sad little world, that’s still incredibly human behavior.

 Pop music’s Golden Age is finally succumbing to natural causes and we’re not okay with that just yet. Bowie’s death has marked the official beginning of the end for an era in popular music that has spelt out our last 60 years of human history on this planet, and we’re scared to say goodbye to the archetypes and artists of our lives because we feel as though so much of whom we are is in them.

 The truth is that one. day songs like “Space Oddity,” “Blowing In The Wind” and “Let It Be” will all pass away too. The meaning that we have attached to such songs and artists both on a personal level and as a generation won’t mean what they once did, and that’s hard to swallow. I think our real fear is that after guys like Bowie, Dylan, and McCartney are all gone that there will be no one left on earth of equal caliber to soundtrack whatever lies ahead.

But, even if that’s true, there is something otherworldly in the idea that someone somewhere may be listening to Bowie right now and is perhaps so deeply affected by what they hear that they are inspired to will something new into existence, something that introduces even the slightest blip into the ether and as such must inevitably have an effect on what is in store for us tomorrow. Music has a funny way of doing that.

“Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.” – David Bowie

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.

Alan Cross has 38321 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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