Arts Devo

David Bowie: badass to the end

Bowie is risen.

Bowie is risen.

Art don’t dieIn the video for his new single “Lazarus,” there are two versions of David Bowie: one dressed in white, frail and struggling in a hospital bed, face partially enshrouded in bandages; and one in black, fidgeting at a writing table and frantically racing against the clock to pour out every drop of ink in the well.

Chris Keene in the video for “Deluge.”

Bowie died last Sunday. He knew it was coming, and he spent his last year working on the album on which “Lazarus” appears, Blackstar—released two days before he died. And watching that video with this knowledge in mind is pretty overwhelming. I don’t feel sad, though; I feel thrilled. I mean, he knew he was dying, and he considered his life and this portion of it and made some goddamn art! It’s so courageous, beautiful and inspiring that I can hardly handle it. Bowie’s legacy as an uncompromising rock star was cemented decades ago, and this final bold creation is an exclamation point on a life committed to always bringing something new into the world and a great reminder to the rest of us to keep busy living.

Bowie’s death comes on the heels of that of another great one—Motorhead frontman and uncompromising badass Lemmy Kilminster—adding to a list of seminal musicians to leave us in recent years, including Lou Reed, Pete Seeger, B.B. King and Tommy Ramone (which means all the original Ramones are dead). And it’s probably healthy to be prepared for these announcements to become even more frequent. Anyone born in 1950 or earlier is officially a senior citizen, and the majority of the rock icons of the 1960s were born before then, as were many of the greats of the 1970s. All of the surviving Rolling Stones are in their 70s. Aretha Franklin is almost 73. Dylan will be 75 this year. Even The Boss is 66!

Personally, I don’t feel sad at the news of the death of any artists who’ve lived full lives (or several in the case of Lemmy), and along the way contributed to a soundtrack that will be played for the rest of everyone’s lives. I feel happy that they will continue to always be a part of me through their music, and grateful for their example of how to kick ass at life. Let’s get out there and rock!

Put a desk in it As I write this, I’m getting my first listen to Above the Ground or Under, the just-released solo EP by Chico recording engineer and pop-rock genius Chris Keene (perhaps best known to many as the frontman of local band Surrogate). In conjunction with the digital release (at, Keene and his band of local ringers—The Shimmies’ Stephen Galloway (bass); Amarok/Cold Blue Mountain frontman Brandon Squyres (keys); Surrogate bassist Daniel Taylor (drums); and local troubadour/Armed for Apocalypse frontman Kirk Williams (guitar)—have simultaneously dropped a video featuring a desk. The live version of “Deluge” was filmed inside downtown Chico’s historic Silberstein building by local videographer Michelle Camy and is being entered in NPR’s annual Tiny Desk Concert contest. Watch it at