A show I’ve been watching has the David Bowie song Life on Mars in its first episode. LoM is a wonderful rock opera track that has Ziggy’s haunting vocals crying out over a fantastic piano piece. And the truth is that I don’t think I’d ever heard it until 10 days ago. I know who he is, I know about the whole alter ego thing and how he has different coloured eyes because he was hit on the side of the head as a child but Heroes, Young Americans, Man Who Sold the World, China Girl and then I run out of songs of his I can actually name. I think the majority of my Bowie knowledge comes from Zoolander and Pop-up Video.
And in a rather predictable way, I blame my parents. As far as my audio education goes they covered off most of the classics. I was exposed to The Beatles, Clapton and Springsteen from an early age. Dire Straits and Billy Joel also feature prominently as did The Beach Boys and Queen. There were some mistakes along the way in the form of the Gypsy Kings and Françoise Hardy and I unfortunately know all the words to Rod Stewart’s The First Cut is the Deepest. Also, I did have to discover Pink Floyd by myself but that didn’t result in any lasting damage as I came across them before I reached my teens.
How then did I not discover David Bowie until I was 28? Has this lack of critical music retarded my development? Is this why I feel uncomfortable in certain social situations? Are there hidden references in everyday conversation that I’m missing because I wasn’t exposed to Space Oddity in my formative years? I feel slightly Amish. Come to think of it, the only Bob Dylan tracks I can name are The Hurricane and Subterranean Homesick Blues and even then that’s only because of a film reference and the reoccurrence in trivia contests respectively.