English singer, songwriter, actor and record producer David Bowie’s influence on pop music spanned over five decades. His legacy of work during the ’70s, the decade I was fortunate to be with London Records, is considered by critics and musicians as showcasing the seeds of his genius which would sprout record sales of 140 million worldwide. David Bowie received five platinum and seven gold certifications here in the States and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
David Bowie’s self-named debut album on the Deram label of London Records was released on June 1st 1967, the month and year of my graduation from high school. Three years later I would be overseeing the mastering and production of re-releases of that first album. Ironically, David Bowie and I met one day at the studio when he was working on Space Oddity shortly after Deram Records had dropped him due to poor sales in 1968. Somewhere between conversations about his first album and what fans deem his first masterpiece, Space Oddity, we talked about his lyrics; a conversation I will never forget.
In 1973, London Records repackaged the album “David Bowie” and combined it with various singles and B-sides to create the compilation album “Images 1966–1967” (London Records BP 628/9). By then I had become an avid listener of his music so when I had to listen to test pressings from pressing plants across the country there was no reluctance on my part; only joy. David Bowie’s career was marked by reinvention and visual presentation, his music and stagecraft significantly influencing popular music.
Although London’s compilation album gained Bowie a significant 1973 hit, “The Laughing Gnome,” “There Is A Happy Land” lyrics play to my passion for reinvention and the need for each of us to push back the voices of what others would have us do versus what we need to do to find and live our own true passion. We need to be open to reinventing ourselves to be who we are meant to be by listening to the music of our own inner voice.
“There is a happy land where only children live
They don’t have the time to learn the ways Of you sir, Mr. Grownup”