Last night the world lost an iconic musician, as the inimitable David Bowie lost his 18-month battle with cancer. He was 69.
I was saddened by this news, as I grew up listening to David Bowie’s music and watching the many films he appeared in.
Bowie was one of those unique and innovative artists with a distinctive, yet ever-evolving vision. His outrageous costumes and makeup in the early 1970s nearly defined the glam-rock era. He influenced fashion, the visual arts, the character of live performances and even much of popular culture along the way.
I remember listening to his 1972 release, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,” a concept album that I think is one of the best of its kind.
Yet despite the success Bowie had with his glam-rock concept style, he wasn’t content to just be complacent and rest on his artistic and financial laurels.
Instead, Bowie followed his own vision — innovating, challenging and creating his music according to his artistic principles.
It is this kind of approach to life that represents a lesson for us all.
|Image Credit: www.davidbowie.com|
One thing I really admired about Bowie is that he was constantly changing musical styles, and constantly shifting over the years to do something different.
For Bowie, it wasn’t enough to remain a genius in one confined area. Unlike the Ziggy Stardust project, 1975’s soul-infused “Young Americans” was almost a 180-degree about-face in the world of rock and roll.
Then just a few years later there were the dance/pop hits in 1983’s “Let’s Dance.” Whether you like David Bowie’s music isn’t the issue here. I liked most of it, but not all of it.
What I do like, and what I admire greatly, was his willingness to stretch out and try something innovative, unexpected and even dangerous in career terms.
Reflecting on Bowie’s life and career made me start thinking about a contrasting attitude and approach that so many people have when it comes to life’s choices.
Rather than following the unconventional and challenging path (the “uncommon wisdom” path, of sorts), most tend to remain confined in their own comfort zones. In fact, fear of change and fear of the unknown is something that operates as a sort of internal governor in most of us.
I don’t know too many people who would take the kind of artistic and/or career chances Bowie took. Of course, I also don’t know many people who have achieved the iconic success that Bowie did.
The way I see it, if you want to be different, or if you want to carve out your own successful niche in life, then doing things the way other people do is just not the way to get there.
Think of the iconic figures in so many important walks of life …
Artists (Picasso), writers (Ayn Rand), athletes (Michael Jordan), scientists (Isaac Newton), philosophers (Aristotle), fashion designers (Coco Chanel), business leaders (Steve Jobs), explorers (Edmund Hillary), warriors (Sun Tzu), etc. …
The one thing they all have in common is that they each created something unique and/or did something different.
I think it’s safe to say that these individuals were all innovators who followed the courage of their convictions, and acted in accordance with their principles and their goals.
And that is an example for all of us to admire.
One thing I learned today about David Bowie is that, in addition to his innovative music and artistic vision, he also was an innovator in the financial field.
A story in today’s MarketWatch described Bowie’s venture into Wall Street. This move was aimed at raising capital via a bond offering, and one of the first instances of so-called “celebrity bonds.”
According to MarketWatch:
In 1997 he [Bowie] introduced an unusual marriage between the rock scene and Wall Street: He issued bonds backed by future revenue of the 25 albums he had recorded before 1990, paying a generous 7.9% interest rate over 10 years. The bond issue earned Bowie $55 million, which he reportedly used to buy back songs from his catalog owned by his former manager.
Ultimately, the bonds were downgraded by Moody’s to near junk status. The ratings agency cited ” … lower than expected revenues generated by the assets due to weakness in sales for recorded music.”
Bowie’s financial venture is just another example of how he wasn’t afraid to embrace innovation, and to embrace the many changes life throws our way.
I guess that’s why it’s no surprise that one of his most-famous and beloved songs, “Changes” was such a big hit.
Just like the admonition in his lyrics, David Bowie lived what he preached — choosing to “turn and face the strange” in the pursuit of excellence.
I recommend we all do the same.
Stocks traded back and forth between gains and losses Monday, as bulls and bears battled for control of this battered market. The Nasdaq fell for the eighth-straight day. It hasn’t seen a losing streak this long since 2008. Meanwhile the Dow Industrials added 0.32%.
• A bright spot on the Nasdaq today was Affymetrix (AFFX), a leader in genome analysis. Shares soared nearly 52% on news that Thermo Fisher Scientific (TMO) is planning a $14-per-share ($1.3 billion) buyout.
• Oil dropped 5.3% today, making energy the worst-performing sector once again. WTI crude closed at $31.41 a barrel.
• Airlines upgrade their Wi-Fi, and up their advertising ante. A new report by Guestlogix says airlines soon plan to sell theater tickets, theme park admission and other entertainment options to travelers. They also plan to pitch in-flight luxuries like food and cocktails based on flyers’ spending habits.
Good Luck and Happy Investing,
Uncommon Wisdom Daily