Last week marked the tenth anniversary of The Next Day, a Bowie album that was unexpected when it arrived—and which has inevitably been overshadowed by the one that followed, Blackstar. I’m really fond of it.
As time spools on, the scaffolding drops away. It always does. There was a context that we no longer have for Young Americans—how a diehard Ziggy Stardust fan felt when he heard Bowie doing “soul.” How the soul Bowie fan felt when she first put on Low. How someone who loved Low felt when she first heard “Let’s Dance” on the radio, knowing Bowie was no longer hers. How a kid who only knew Bowie through “Let’s Dance” felt when he saw Bowie sing “The Hearts Filthy Lesson” on Letterman.
The privilege of a point in time is to experience something in a way that everyone who comes later can only approximate. The mistake is to think this will matter. Like a gambling house, the future always wins.