And the stars look very different today

david-bowie-space-ziggy-stardust-1973-alamay-billboard-650As a diehard rock music fan from Cleveland, I’ve always been proud to note that when the late great David Bowie made his American concert debut in 1972 in support of his phenomenal game-changing album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” he did so from the stage of Music Hall in Cleveland Public Auditorium.

Sadly, I was a couple of months late to turn on to this strange new British sensation with the orange hair, bizarre costume and alien persona, so I wasn’t in attendance.  But once I heard the explosive, revolutionary sounds of “Suffragette City,” I ran out and bought the tumblr_inline_o0wvgzrtfn1s042m1_1280album, and played it incessantly for months.  Such an incredible record full of dynamic, in-your-face music — “Moonage Daydream,” “Starman,” “Hang On To Yourself,” “Rock and Roll Suicide,” and the indelible title track…

But he’s gone now, damnit.  Dead of liver cancer at age 69.  We lost a musical giant, a real Major Tom, this month.

Over the course of 28 albums in nearly 50 years, Bowie clearly earned his reputation as the Chameleon of Rock, continually changing musical styles, personas, accompanying musicians, producers, fashion and more, often with little regard for how it might appeal to his fan base or the commercial charts.  “My reason for performing is not to please an audience,” he said in 1997.  “It’s to present what I think are exciting new ideas.”

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Even children get older, now I’m getting older too

images-3I once saw a posting on Facebook that said, “There’s a time in one’s life when it’s appropriate to stop having birthday parties.  That age is 11.”

That seems a bit harsh.  There’s “Sweet Sixteen” (driver’s license time);  there’s 18 (voting age);  there’s 21 (drinking age);  there’s 30 (“over the hill” parties).  And you could make a case for 40, 50, and every decade thereafter as significant milestones.

But really, don’t we go a little crazy about the whole birthday thing?  It’s just another day on life’s journey, isn’t it?  Apparently not, say some folks, who relish the opportunity to shower friends and loved ones with loads of attention one day every year, whether it’s a milestone birthday or not.

I’m often amused when someone learns he or she has the same birthday as I do, and is just stunned.  “Wow, what a coincidence!  I mean, what are the ODDS?”  (Actually, they’re pretty low; there are, after all, only 365 days to choose from, and 318,000,000 of us in this country…)

Ah well.  If birthdays are going to continue to be commemorated, it’s always good to have some appropriate songs to mark the occasion.  I’ve taken the liberty of compiling an eclectic list of tunes — some hits, some obscure, some joyous, some reflective — that can come in handy when you want to pay respect to, or reflect upon, the act of aging, turning another year older, growing up, the passing of another year:

maxresdefault-6“Happy, Happy Birthday Baby,” The Tune Weavers, 1957

A classic slice of doo-wop that hit #5 on the charts in the early years of the rock era.   It was written by Margo Sylvia and Gilbert Lopez, and Sylvia sang lead vocals on the track.  Sylvia wrote the lyrics about her recent breakup with her boyfriend and how much she wanted to be by his side on his birthday.  This one was covered by such luminaries as Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Sandy Posey, Ronnie Milsap and Wanda Jackson.

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