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BBC Learning English The Music Show David Bowie



Hello, I'm Callum Robertson and this is the music show. Today we celebrate the birthday of one of the most original and influential rock musicians, David Bowie. On January 8 Bowie became the latest in the generation of musicians still working today to turn 60. In this programme we'll find out about his life, hear other musicians talking about him and also, of course listen to some of his music.



For over 40 years Bowie has been making music. He has released more than 25 studio albums and throughout his career his music has changed and evolved in style. It has ranged from the psychedelic folk of Space Oddity through Glam Rock, New Romantic, Dance and Experimental. His music styles have also famously coincided with his image. In the 1970's he adopted certain characters in his music and his performances, characters such as Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke.



At that time in the early and mid 1970's Bowie was beginning to influence a later generation of musicians through his image as well as his art and philosophy inspired songs. Here's Jarvis Cocker from the British band Pulp who says that Bowie's records were clever and intelligent but weren't

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pretentious, they weren't trying to sound more important or clever than they actually were, unlike a lot of 'prog rock' music of that time.

Jarvis Cocker Bowie's image and the look that he had were as important as the music and I think there were other people trying to make supposedly intelligent music at the time, all that kind of prog rock rubbish. There was something about David Bowie, he obviously was clever and his records were well put together and intelligent but somehow Bowie managed to keep that intelligence without it getting pretentious and irritating, you know.


Former pop star now DJ Boy George also rated Bowie's music above another of the popular genres of the early 70s, Glam Rock

Boy George At that point [1973] Bowie could do no wrong for me, it was like everything he did was genius. I mean I was a huge T-Rex fan, but if you compare like Bowie to any of the other 'glam' bands it was nothing like any of those bands, it was really 'out there'.


He describes Bowie as being really 'out there'. 'Out there' this expression means he was doing things that nobody else was doing, he was 'out there' in both his music and his image. Here's Debbie Harry from Blondie.

Debbie Harry He looks sensational you know and he was bigger than life, you know, he had made-up hair, costumes you know he was really really put together and the whole thing was entirely creative.


Bowie looked sensational, make up, dyed hair and costumes. He is regarded by many as a creative genius, bringing art into pop music.


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Although the seventies was the period when he first became well known his greatest commercial success was in the 1980's with songs such as Under Pressure and Ashes to Ashes. The 1983 album Let's Dance was a huge worldwide commercial success. It was regarded as being much more mainstream than his previous work. Mainstream. It appealed to pop fans and not just traditional Bowie fans.



Since the commercial heights of Let's Dance Bowie's recording have met with mixed commercial and critical success. However since 2000 his recordings have all made the top 10 in the UK album charts.

David Bowie is perhaps most well known as a singer, yet this is only one of his many talents. He is also a multi-instrumentalist, a record producer, an actor on stage, television and in films and also a technological innovator on the internet.

Scottish singer Annie Lennox sums up his legacy, what he has done that is important and will remain over time, she says he will never be Joe Bloggs. Who is Joe Bloggs it's the name used for someone who is anonymous, an ordinary nobody and that could never be David Bowie. Lennox I think his legacy is huge, legacy meaning what he's done up to now and it's something that he'll never ever be Joe Bloggs even if he wants to be The World without Bowie would have been a sorry place.


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