Villi Asgeirsson

Drafting ideas...

Month: January 2016

David Bowie’s 100 Favourite Books

As the fallout from Bowie’s death settles, we collect our thoughts and try to make sense of his life and legacy. As I mentioned in my previous post, I fell in love with him in my teens. He was larger than life and he sang about feelings of isolation and anxiety. Something I was only too familiar with after the death of my father.

David Bowie ReadingI believe what turned me onto him wasn’t just the music, the costumes and whatever doomsday thoughts he dabbled in. I have always been curious about life, the universe and everything. Bowie was extremely well read and seemed to share this curiosity. In fact, I think his curiosity far exceeded mine. His ability to express his findings in art certainly did. He opened up strange doors that would never close again. My life was richer because of him.

Having been a fan for more than 30 years, I know his music inside and out. All periods, also the incredible and overlooked 1990s. I could go upon a stage and give an unprepared lecture about his life and influences. I have all his records and a few books on him and his art. While the world scrambles to get to know him – Blackstar is no 1 in 69 countries and his album sales rose 5000% in the week after his passing – I can sit back and enjoy what I already am familiar with.

Bowie BooksSo how can I get to know him better without reading another biography? How can I get into his mind and tap into that universe of his? The answer is, get to know his influences. As mentioned above, Bowie was extremely well read. There are countless photos of him reading through the decades. He posted his top 100 books on his Facebook page in 2013. I have read a couple of them, but most are a mystery. Many I have never heard of.

So here is how I’ll commemorate David Bowie in the coming year and beyond. Read the books he loved. Let him continue to expand my mind and horizon. His music may just take on a whole new meaning.

Only question is, where to start?

David Bowie 1947-2016

I wasn’t going to write about this. I was going to lie down with headphones on like I did in my teens. The way I heard “Heroes” for the first time. Listen to the album he released last Friday. The album that was a part of his death. But I can’t. I can’t put it on. Not just yet.

It all seems so clear now. He looked old and frail in the videos to Blackstar and Lazarus. Unlike the videos he made three years ago. Subconsciously, I wondered how it could be. Consciously, I ignored it. Avoided the subject.

David BowieIt’s a wonder, really. Even his death was art. He had been ill for a year and a half. He went into the studio, knowing what was to come. He created a masterpiece, a record that surpasses everything he’s done since the 1970s. Yes, it’s better than Scary Monsters. He released the album on his birthday, giving it no chance to be a “dead man – huge hit” thing. It was a regular release on Friday. A baffling album that so painfully, makes perfect sense now. Two days later, he goes. Last single he released was Lazarus. Look up here, I’m in heaven. I have scars that can’t be seen. What did we know?

David Bowie was in control. He even designed our experience of his death.

My first real encounter with David Bowie was in 1983. I’m a Let’s dance kid. I heard the singles on the radio because they were the biggest thing around. My uncle borrowed the album and the Best of Bowie (the original 1980 K-Tel release) as he was learning the guitar. I don’t know if he ever played them, but I was hooked. Played Let’s Dance until it was engraved in my being. Then the Best of… realised his earlier stuff was way more interesting. The rest is history. I was a fan for life.

Me finding Bowie coincided with the passing of my father. I have always believed that it had something to do with it. He filled the void. Became so much more than just a rock idol. I felt like I understood him. I was relieved when he released Tin Machine. I remember listening to it, thinking “yes, you did it”! I followed his experimentations throughout the 1990s. Saw him numerous times live in the 1996-2004 period. Every album reinforced his genius, or our connection. I recognised passages from my 2013 novel in one of the songs on his new album. Did he read it, or had he influenced me to such an extent that I was thinking and writing like him? It’s bollock, obviously. I don’t believe he never knew I existed, but we spoke the same language. We were on the same page. He was always a step ahead, but I felt like I caught up with his thinking. I always understood him, or so I thought.

But this isn’t about me. This is about a legend. The man who fell to earth and sprinkled us earthlings with stardust. He is gone now. He will never surprise me again with his wit and he will never infect me again with his sense of wonder for the world and the odd things in it. Except when I go through his awesome catalogue and rediscover the gems he left behind.

A legend is gone, but he will live forever.

Everything has changed.

State of Things

The blog is quiet on the surface, but don’t be fooled. Here is what’s up.

My second novel, Blood and Rain, is as good as complete. A few minor tweaks, then a bit of photography, cover design, trailer and a Twitter storm.

keep-calm-and-open-minded-3The site went offline in September 2015, as my hosting account was shut down. This was detailed in an earlier post. A quick summary, FatCow proved to have a horrible support department. They led me on for weeks before deleting my database. They kept saying it would be solved, or at least didn’t say it wouldn’t. Whatever, if you’re looking for a hosting solution, don’t look at FatCow.

Old posts I salvaged via WayBackMachine are being recreated and put up again. All comments are gone. I couldn’t get those. But most of the posts will be up in the coming days. All but the very last one from late summer 2015. They are gone forever. It’s a tedious affair, but I want my blog back.

So, see you very soon. I am looking forward to leaving the past behind and looking towards the future. A reader of my new novel described it as “beautiful”, so I’m itching to get it out there.

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