Music Appreciation: David Bowie

 Aladdin Sane.tif

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

David Bowie died on Monday. This time it really happened, and it goes without saying that the world lost a truly unique and incredible individual. Music, and pop culture as we know it, will never be the same. Bowie left his mark in many aspects of popular culture, music and fashion being the two most prominent of all, however The Thin White Duke played a huge role in skateboarding culture as well.

Whether he knew it or not, a Bowie song in a skate video was more than just another song in the credits━you had to fucking earn that song. Bowie’s music transcended so many genres that any song, from any album, could be blended seamlessly into almost any skate video. From the hip-hop/funk infused “Fame”, to the acoustic opus “Quicksand”, or the fable-like “Width of a Circle”, Bowie’s music could elevate any video part, solely for the fact that it was a David Bowie song.

His name alone, whether it be music, fashion, or even skateboarding, meant something. It is with a heavy heart, that we here at SMLTalk HQ, honor David Bowie and his contributions to our culture. Thanks for everything.

*We know that Ripped Laces and Jenkem have already done this. You can save your breathe o[n mentioning the[ similarities between our three write ups because regardless of redundancy, Bowie was a childhood hero for all of us and we’d like to express our gratitude for his contributions not only to skateboard culture, but to popular culture as well.

Arto Saari - Sorry (2002)

“1984” - Diamond Dogs (1974)

“Rock n’ Roll Suicide” - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972)

It’s really hard to describe to people that don’t skateboard what a skate video actually is. “Stunts set to music”, while totally painful to say aloud, is at the end of the day, exactly what they are. We know that they’re more than that, they tap into the human emotion the same way Hollywood films do. They’re messages to our culture and they breed new ideas and innovation to skateboarders all across the world.

When it comes to Arto’s Sorry part, I think anyone can see meaning beyond just “stunts set to music”. Bowie and Arto together is a magical pairing; I can’t fully articulate why, but his two song ender from 2002 is a cinematic masterpiece...and that goddamn fakie flip as “Rock n’ Roll Suicide” comes in. Two musical masterpieces to score what is undoubtedly one of the greatest parts ever filmed.

Bryan Herman - Baker 3 (2005) “Width of a Circle” - The Man Who Sold the World (1970)

Herman’s curtain call in Baker 3 saw the dawn of a new chapter in a young man’s life. It was the transition from rookie to professional, and Bowie oversaw the entire metamorphosis. “Width of a Circle” was a remarkably appropriate choice, as the glam-rock medley takes many forms, much like Herman’s skating and persona do throughout the part.

We see striped polos, shaved heads, and pristine, white button ups. There’s hucking, picnic tables, and handrails. Herman didn’t choose this song, but the song didn’t choose him either. The two were simply meant to be. What we’re left with is something legends are made of, and so another Bowie song is off-limits forever.

Marc Johnson -Pretty Sweet - (2013)“Five Years” - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972)

Luckily when I watched MJ’s Pretty Sweet part for the first time, I wasn’t sitting at a table. If that were the case, you know for damn sure I would have flipped that thing the moment he bossed out that backside noseblunt, just as the opening drums for Ziggy’s “Five Years” kicked in.

It was a perfect moment in skate history, for a man whose transcendental stuntwood abilities are vested in a rich history of flawless music supervision. “Five Years” was the icing on the cake, and what we’re left with is proof of the undying human spirit, and the possibility of progression regardless of age.

In many ways, Bowie and MJ are parallels in their respective crafts for this keen ability to reinvent.

Hector Gill Credits - Coliseum Boston Massacre (2004) “The Man Who Sold The World” - The Man Who Sold The World (1970)

I think it speaks volumes about Bowie’s legacy that a clip of two dudes in the back seat of a car, singing along to “Man Who Sold The World” for a fleeting moment of time, crammed smack dab in the middle of Hector Gill’s credits section in Coliseum’s oft-forgotten Boston Massacre video, would leave a lasting impression on an very impressionable 12-year-old.

At this time, Kazaa was still sort of a thing, and I remember making it a point to download that song as soon as the video was over. Something about that lyric, “You’re face, to face, with the man who sold the world” incited a bit of a religious experience within me. I was there. I looked at that dude. The one who sold the world...That dude was me, and nothing was the same.

*Zoolander *(2001)

Yeah we know this has nothing to do with skating, but this was important for me as a kid. At the time, I had only heard “Heroes” and while I had fallen in love with Bowie’s sounds, I didn’t fully understand what kind of icon he actually was. The “walk off” scene, featuring Bowie, is a testament to whom Bowie is as an icon, both in the fashion world and the music world as well.

I know it’s a comedy and a ridiculous comedy at that, but this is what seeing Bowie in public should actually be like...people literally in awe, like you’re in the presence of a creature from another world. It should also be noted that as it appears, this ain’t Bowie’s first rodeo. See “old school rules”, aka been there done that, and you lads are lucky I’m sitting this one out. Fucking legend.

Chocolate Montage* - Yeah Right! (2003) - “Fame” - Young Americans (1975)

2003 was sort of a “changing of the guard” moment for Chocolate. Some of the brand’s original members, from the days of Paco and The Chocolate Tour, had either taken a back seat or had left entirely. Keenan had passed on and his vacancy would never be replaced.

However, these departures opened doors for some newcomers i.e. Kenny Anderson, Marc, Justin Eldridge, Chris Roberts etc. and our first “New Chocolate” experience came in the form of the Yeah Right! montage set to Bowie’s “Fame”. And here’s where the real genius of editing comes in: “Fame” is laced with notes of funk and hip-hop, two genres of music that basically defined the soundtrack of prior Chocolate videos. But now with Chocolate beginning to move on from the tragic loss of Keenan, and the departures of some of their original riders, they’re seeing a chance to reinvent and rebuild themselves...and who else knows that game better than Bowie himself.

An appropriate tip of the hat to the old Chocolate, while also making a step in a new direction...all by way of Bowie’s irrefutable mastery of all known musical genres. That’s how you edit a video, boys and girls.

Steve Olson - Tentacles of Destruction (1993) “Quicksand” - Hunky Dory (1971)

This part rules, but it’s not without its oddities. It’s probably one of the earliest forms of the #emotional skate video part, and not so much in the modern sense with all of the board throwing and crying, but more so the tear jerking selection of “Quicksand” to highlight Steve Olson’s head scratching technical abilities. Take the frontside 180 nosegrind frontside shove it out down Hubba, or high speed crooked grind nollie frontside heelflip out...all set to Bowie’s acoustic masterpiece “Quicksand”.

You see, some of these tricks are really insane and ahead of their time...and some are just really weird. But again, we see a genius in editing here, because the true lesson that Bowie taught us in his time here on earth, is that being different is not only ok, but it’s integral for any culture to evolve. And as we all know, Olson followed his weirdness where ever it would take him, soon evolving into the Skate Hippie/Monk we all know and love. Embrace your strange, people, fuck what anyone else says.

Jeremy Klein/Heath Kirchart - The End *(1998) - Under Pressure" - Hot Space (1982)*

Few songs could be more "suit"-able (so sorry) than "Under Pressure" for this classic 1998 part. Freddy Mercury and Bowie together, a dynamic duo that sets the score for another dynamic and truly timeless duo, Jeremy and Heath. For such a serious video, it was so rad to see two legendary street skaters come together and do something totally different.

The suits, the jump ramps, even the song is sort of odd in the context of The End, though maybe people couldn't understand Freddy Mercury and David Bowie collaborating the way they did back in 1981, but regardless of it's meaning, or rumors of their relationship, the world is a much better place for their collaboration, as is the skateboard world for Mr. Klein and Mr. Kirchart's.