With the recent passing of David Bowie, it got me to thinking about musical artists that stand out from the rest of their contemporaries. Artists, that for some reason, have risen higher in the hearts and consciousness of their fans and the world at large. While an admirer and respecter of Bowie’s work, he was never a favorite of mine. While I really groove on the funkiness of tunes like ‘Young Americans’, ‘Let’s Dance’ and ‘Fame’, and dig the great guitar of ‘Suffragette City’ that’s pretty much where it ends between me and Dave. Musical heresy, I know, but we all have our particular tastes and it’s not polite to yuck another person’s yum. As they say in my fifth grader’s class.
I was surprised to realize just how huge Bowie was in the larger sense of the musical world. Which isn’t unjustified. His career lasted for decades and his impact will last for decades more. But I’m not here to talk about that. I want to talk about those handful of artists that have transcended all of culture and time to become just about larger than life. For whatever reasons. Like some mystical force was behind or in them that allowed them to do things no one else could do. For lack of a better word, I’m going to call it The Anointing. I was making my list of who I thought would fit into that category. Musical artists who were bigger than big; who’s death would make the nightly news and the front page of the New York Times as well as Rolling Stone and Mojo. Social media has magnified everything in society, but this would go beyond anything Facebook or Instagram postings could muster up.
In recent years, artists that fit into this anointed category and have passed on have been George Harrison, John Lennon, Michael Jackson and Johnny Cash. Beloved beyond all the other beloved and missed more than any others were missed. I’m going to add a few others to this list. Obviously the other two Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr make the list. They were Beatles and they were part of the magic. And I’m going to add Bob Dylan because, well, he’s Bob Dylan and if I have to explain that you should probably rethink your personal musicality.
I’m going to add Bruce Springsteen as well. Because I’m from NJ and it’s the law. No, I’m kidding. But somehow, the anointing came upon Springsteen during his Born In The USA tour. He was popular before that record, but nothing on the international scale of popularity he enjoys now. The man’s helping to define elections for crying out loud. It’s almost like his musical artistry is a backseat to his cultural relevance and importance.
And that’s it. You could argue for James Brown or perhaps Prince and you would have a good argument; especially for Prince as the guy just oozes magic and wonderment while Brown was very Earthly in that way. You could argue for Mick or Keith, but again, I don’t think they’re worthy of the anointed title. But I could very well be wrong. Tell me why I am…