January 11, 2016, - 4:34 am
Ground control to Major Tom. Say it ain’t so. Iconic pop rocker David Bowie is dead at age 69 from cancer. Other than his music, there is something I very much liked about Bowie a/k/a David Robert Jones: despite being married to a Muslim, he never once gave in to jihad, and proudly played Israel repeatedly.
David Bowie Lands in Israel & Expresses Pride in Performing There . . .
Growing up in the ’80s, I was a fan of David Bowie’s pop music, which generated many top hits on dance and pop playlists. He was among the first rock artists from the ’60s and ’70s to make bright and colorful music videos and use MTV–which was then a new cable network playing only music videos–to aid his transformation from androgynous, revolutionary rocker to pop star and dance hit generator. I loved Bowie’s deep, throaty voice and, though only some of his pop tunes stand the test of time, his songs were catchy and hip in the ’80s, when I was a kid. My friends and I listened to his songs and danced to the at clubs, parties, and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
I wasn’t that into Bowie’s pseudo-gay act with Mick Jagger, in which they sang “Dancing in the Streets”–a video that constantly played before movies at the theater and was on MTV 24/7. But I liked a lot of his stuff. And I always liked his coolness and swagger. The man was a showman and he successfully morphed his act with the times throughout his decades-long music career. To me, Bowie exuded ’80s cool. He was the epitome of it. And I was a fan. Even with orange hair, an earring, and leather pants, he was suave, debonair, and hot with those stark blue eyes.
Bowie used technology, futurism, and space travel as themes and tools in his music, staying ahead of the curve and making an impact. Although some have interpreted his famous 1969 hit, “Space Oddity” (from which the “Ground control to Major Tom” lyrics come), as a statement against nuclear weapons and war, Bowie never meant it that way. That’s only been present when others have taken liberties with the lyrics in their performances of the song. The song was primarily about Bowie’s fascination with space and space travel. And it wasn’t just his singing and lyrics, which Bowie mostly wrote himself. He was multi-talented. Not only did he also write many of the musical arrangements for his songs, he also played many instruments and was an actor and painter.
Despite the fact that Bowie was married to Somalian Muslim model, Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid (known simply as “Iman”), for more than two decades (until his death yesterday), Bowie regularly performed in Israel. That includes Bowie’s performances in the mid-1990s at the height of the “First Intifada [Uprising]” by the Palestinians, during which many famous artists stopped going to Israel to do shows, out of fear for their security and also because of Muslim boycotts. David Bowie, in the above video, gets off the plane in 1996 and smiles, expressing his pride about playing in Israel. When the far-left Israeli press ask him whether he’s afraid to perform there, he talks about how he isn’t afraid and how he nearly lost his foot in Iceland. His coolness comes through in the video. And his commitment to doing the right thing does, too. Despite his many froofy clothes and haircuts and transvestite turns, David Bowie was a man, not a coward. And not politically correct in the face of jihadists. (The video is one of six parts on YouTube which comprise an Israeli documentary about his 1996 performance in Israel, but he appeared onstage in Tel Aviv many times over the years.)
Yes, it is true that Bowie, at one point, collected Nazi memorabilia and was thought to have delivered a Nazi salute in 1976, but that is something he blamed on his drug problems. Bowie was one of the earliest non-Jewish/celebrity followers of Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism), decades before Madonna, and had a Jewish half-brother (the result of his mother’s previous relationship with a Jewish furrier). He also was in a band (“Tin Machine”) with the sons of the late Jewish comedian Soupy Sales.
Over the weekend, I heard that Bowie had just released a new album, and I’ll admit that, in my mind, I was skeptical. I wondered what the 69-year-old could possibly do that’s new and interesting, as his recent new material wasn’t that great.
But David Bowie made a lot of great music. And it’s good to see that he along with that great music, he had some big cojones and didn’t bow to international pressure to abide by anti-Semitic boycotts of Israel and the Jewish people. That’s more than I can say for many others in his industry.
And it says a lot.
I regret that I never got to see Bowie in concert, as I know it would have been a great experience. My favorite Bowie song: “Heroes.” Love that song. Others I like: the insightful “Fame,” “Young Americans,” and “Suffragette City.” Also, “Golden Years,” “Absolute Beginners.” And don’t forget, “Under Pressure,” which Bowie recorded with Queen.
David Bowie a/k/a David Jones, Rest In Peace
David Bowie Performs “Heroes” in Israel, 1996 . . .
A note about Bowie’s widow, Iman: her father was a Somalian diplomat to Saudi Arabia, and her parents were liberal democrats (small “L,” small “D”) who wanted Somalia to be modern and liberalized. You’ll note she does not cover her hair and, throughout her modeling career, wore bikinis and barely-there clothing. When more extreme Muslims took over Somalia, her family could not go back, and that’s how they ended up in the West. She told the Guardian that she was teaching her daughter (with Bowie, named Alexandra “Lexi” Zahra Jones) about the Holocaust and having her read Elie Wiesel’s “Night” for Holocaust Remembrance Day. Given all these things, I’m sure she is not well-liked by Muslims. And although she says she does not speak out against female genital mutilation in Somalia because it “is not my thing,” she has spoken out against the extremist Muslims and brand of Islam that controls Somalia and is trying to change it by educating girls(good luck with that “Oprah solution” – which only creates “educated” extremist Muslim girls).
What has happened to women in Somalia? When I was growing up women wore traditional clothes or regular western clothes. We went to school. But the schools don’t exist any more. And women are not even allowed to drive any more. It’s run by extremists. Somalia was 100% a Muslim country, but it had its own culture before it adopted Islam. So you were a Muslim, but you were a Somali first.
Um, you’re never anything but a Muslim first in Islam. That’s the problem. You either have Islam–and extremism, death, and destruction. Or you don’t have Islam.
In any event, David Bowie’s wife seems to be one of those scant few “moderate Muslims,” usually an oxymoronical phrase.
And she clearly didn’t do anything to stop her husband, the late David Bowie, from doing the right thing and playing in Israel. That counts for a lot.
Tags: David Bowie, David Bowie dead, David Bowie death, David Bowie dies, David Bowie Iman, David Bowie Israel, David Bowie Jews, David Bowie RIP, David Robert Jones, IMAN, Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, Israel, RIP David Bowie