Cultured Llama authors have responded to the death of David Bowie this month, just two days after his 69th birthday and the release of a new album, Blackstar. In fact, Peter Cook, author of The Music of Business and Punk Rock People Management, was invited to talk on CNN on the day Bowie’s death was announced. Here are some quotes from ‘Changes: Reinvention lessons from David Bowie’, from the section of Leadership in The Music of Business :
Lesson # 5. Perpetual change
In 1983, he released ‘Let’s Dance’. Bowie recruited Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers to produce the album, giving the record a sleek, funky foundation, and hired the unknown Stevie Ray Vaughan as lead guitarist. Let’s Dance became his most successful record. HR talk about change management at length. Bowie just gets on with it.
Lesson # 6. Learn from Failure
Bowie’s next project was less successful. He formed a guitar rock band called Tin Machine. They released an album to poor reviews […] a second album, “Tin Machine II”, was largely ignored […] perhaps too far ahead for some people to latch on to. When change does not work it is time to change again.
It was in an ‘A’ Level music class. In these lessons the four of us would often be asked to listen to some piece of music and analyse it to death: a Mozart symphany, a Beethoven sonata, a Monteverdi vesper – or ‘Changes’ by David Bowie.
The fact that the people who set the ‘A’ Level syllabus saw fit to put Bowie’s music alongside Mozart and Beethoven is the biggest compliment a schools examining board can probably make.
And it’s one that we should all make.
I listened to ‘Changes’ transfixed. The rising piano introduction, the horns, that voice. It was pure perfection. Whether or not I was able to identify any parallel fifths or notate the bass line by ear, I have no idea.I was probably just too bowled over.
David Bowie was exotic, alien, strange, yet an ordinary boy from Bromley. We thought, in those days, that he wore a coloured contact lens to make one eye look different. I learned only this week that his unusually large pupil, diminished iris, was the result of a playground accident. But then there were, and remain, so many secrets, so much misinformation about this enigmatic singer, performer, composer, actor.
What I can say is, in 1973, he was the most exciting thing on my horizon. If I could get away with watching Top of the Pops(my mum said it was ‘pure rubbish’), he might appear singing ‘Life on Mars’, strangely contorted and with bad dentistry, and absolutely mesmerising to my 13-year-old self.
There was a cabinet at the top of one the staircases at school, which was given over to different classes to make displays, and our theme was Life on Mars. We hadn’t quite got the meaning of the song, so took the title literally, and created a planet surface populated by little rubber aliens that you could buy from sweet shops, with holes in the bottom to balance them on fingers or use as pencil tops.
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