Tag Archives: David Bowie

Thank you, David Bowie

One day in my twenties, I picked my dad up at the airport. As I drove him home, we chatted about his trip.

It was good, he said. He paused. “At LAX, I ran into David Bowie.”

“You… did?” I managed not to say, You know who David Bowie is?

My dad said that he was changing terminals and when he stepped outside, Bowie was standing at the curb, waiting for his ride.

“Did you speak to him?” I said, though I already knew the answer to that. My dad never shied from anything.

“I told him I admired his music. We talked about his influences, from twentieth century classical composers to the avant-garde.”

They chatted for a minute, then my dad hustled to his terminal and Bowie climbed into his limo.

I should not have been surprised by any of this. My dad, who looked every inch the English professor he was, also was a classical pianist and professional organist. What delights me is how my dad just ambled up, chill as all get-out, and started talking to Bowie about his music. Bowie engaged with a complete stranger, warmly and genuinely.

Thank you, David Bowie, for being so cool, and for helping me understand that my dad was cool too.

We can be heroes, just for one day
We can be us, just for one day.

Bowie and Bing: Lessons and Carols

The story behind this strange and lovely duet:

At the time, it was about the most unlikely pairing imaginable: gender-bending glam rocker David Bowie and stodgy crooner Bing Crosby. And yet, when the two got together to sing a duet on the 1977 TV special Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, they made holiday magic.

“Bowie balked at singing the traditional Christmas carol ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ on the special. Grossman recalls, ‘He said, “I won’t sing that song. I hate that song… I’m doing this show because my mother loves Bing Crosby.”‘”

Scrambling to find a solution, Grossman and Kohan hit upon the idea of introducing a counter melody to “Drummer Boy” that Bowie could sing while Crosby sang the traditional arrangement. “It all happened rather rapidly. I would say within an hour, we had it written and were able to present it him again,” Kohan remembers.

The result: “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy,” a tune that pleased both Bowie and Crosby and went on to become a holiday-music standard right alongside the original “Little Drummer Boy.”

This tale offers several lessons, beyond reminding me how much I love David Bowie. The video reveals how generous Bing Crosby is during the performance, letting Bowie’s vocal shine.

From a writer’s perspective, it reminds us:

  • When you run into a problem, collaborate to find a solution that respects all the artists and builds on their strengths.
  • Deadlines can spur creativity to wonderful levels. Bowie’s melody was written in an hour.
  • Challenges can result in magic.

Peace on Earth. Happy Holidays, everyone.