A Piano Tribute to the Late David Bowie, By Scott Bradlee

I still remember the first time I heard David Bowie’s 1969 classic, “Space Oddity.”  I was in college, hoping to pursue a career in music, and struggling to make sense on what exactly that meant.  At a time where, prompted by technology, music was being endlessly categorized into tiny boxes of subgenres,  I felt like I was late to the party.  I didn’t fit in as a jazz musician, and didn’t fit in as a pop musician, either.

I’m not sure how “Space Oddity” ended up on my Hewlett-Packard dorm room computer.  I probably downloaded it from Napster, truth be told (it was the early 2000s, in case that wasn’t obvious).  All I remember is listening to it for the first time and thinking, “Why am I just now discovering David Bowie?”

“Space Oddity” wasn’t like the rock songs I had heard before.  It was cinematic.  It had lots of chord changes and an unusual form.  It seemed to have more in common with the tradition of opera than rock.  I immediately sought out more Bowie albums – Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, Heroes – and found that, as different as each one sounded, they each had the unmistakable stamp of an artist that simply made the music that he wanted to make.  David Bowie didn’t follow trends; he made them.  By the time the rest of the world caught on to what his was doing, he was already out the door.  He was eternally the kid that refused to color within the lines, yet somehow managed to turn the page into a beautiful work of art.

I sat down at the piano today to reflect on Bowie’s extraordinary life in music and the lessons he gave to artists everywhere – lessons that continue to inspire all of us that dare to color outside of the lines from time to time.  Here’s “Space Oddity,” as I remember hearing it so many years ago.   It’s my way of saying, “thanks.”

RIP David Bowie, 1947-2016.

-Scott

@scottbradlee

 

  • Oso

    Thanks Scott, Bowie cast a light as big as the stars and opened the door for many artists to shine just as bright. That was beautiful.

  • Randy Woodard

    A beautiful and kind of heart rending tribute Mr. Bradlee. Thank you.

    • Susanna Sharp-Schwacke

      I used heart-rending in my thanks to Scott on Facebook. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one with a rended heart out there.

  • Megan Cantwell

    Sheet music now please.

  • Kenny Poo

    Wow. Gorgeous. Sublime. I don’t think i have enough superlatives to do this tennder tribute justice. By far my favorite Bowie song, and you made it gently weep to perfection.

  • Joyce Paramore

    Absolutely beautiful

  • Erik Robert

    Scott you truly are blessed with a talent! Your style, on a tribute to his music was amazing.

  • Rijacki

    Thank you.

  • Maria F Raposo

    awesome love it

  • Beatles Weekly

    This is captivating, Scott, as are your written words. Bravo. Rip Bowie.

  • Kris Webb

    Beautiful.

  • Jo Artym

    Effortless composed piece….. yet with such deep warmth. TY

  • Audra Cook

    Beautiful

  • RickRussellTX

    We really need the PMJ treatment on one of his big pop hits: Modern Love, Young Americans, Under Pressure, something like that.

  • richlost

    The stars look very different today

  • Michael Eklöf

    Well written and played Scott.
    I heard the song through Radio Luxenbourg AM as a crackling from outer space when i was a kid in the 70’s. That was a time before commercial radios existed in Europe an the only place you could hear modern music from was through “pirate” radio stations.
    It was really like a message from outer space to be what you want.

  • Dan Vieira

    That was gorgeous, Scott. Thank you so much for your amazing work and a lovely tribute. Thank you for your thoughts on Bowie. And thanks for all you do to make PMJ one of the best bands out there by far.

    I think Bowie is up in that tin can smiling, realizing only now how many people he touched and influenced in his storied career. RIP, Thin White Duke.

  • Elie Hirschman

    Maybe once the pain has passed, we could get to hear some ragtime of David Bowie’s hits.

  • Nathan Dahlhauser

    I’m sitting up in the middle of the night because my 6 month old son was screaming. As I’m feeding him a bottle and perusing my Facebook, I came across this video and hit play. Around the time that Ground Control and Major Tom established their connection, so had you and my son. He lay in my arms entranced by your piano and, I’d like to think, Bowie himself. I imagined him playing this (or some rendition of it) at a piano recital in grade school or something. Thanks for the feelings and inspiration. You’ve reached a wide demographic.

  • Paul Wanger

    Beautifully played. Honorable tribute to a legend.

  • Peter Smay

    Shared with my FaceBook friends tonight:
    “In less than 24 hours, Scott Bradlee turns this sad time into a reflective and heart-felt tribute. This is worth the read, and the listen, in memoriam….”

  • Allen Wiener

    Beautiful. A lovely and quite gripping tribute. Thank you.

  • Robin Ornellas

    David Bowie provided the soundtrack of my formative years. This is such a lovely tribute to a rare soul.

  • Grace Hernández

    Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Liftoff…
    Here am I floating round my tin can far above the Moon Planet Earth is
    blue And there’s nothing I can do… ‪#‎RIPDavidBowie‬

  • Regina Moraes

    Wonderful and tender, Scott. Curious that this song is from 1969 and he died at 69 years old.

  • Ariel Van De Kamp

    My heart just broke (again). Thank you so much for this, Scott.

  • Thank you. Thanks so much…

  • Cammy Elquist LoRé

    Thankful that David Bowie had an influence he had on all of us and that he inspired you in the way he did. Thank you for this lovely rendition and what you bring to the song in performance. We’ll forgive you for Napster 🙂

  • beautifully played

  • kcatthedog

    Lovely and touching: I think the way David wanted us all to be, in our own way.

  • Ken Eastwood

    Fabulous. Really lovely. Thank you.

  • DKendallGrigsby

    A moving tribute, indeed. RIP Ziggy Stardust.

  • Tony DeSare

    Great! Thanks for doing that!

  • Suzan McKeever

    A very moving interpretation of a piece by an inspirational musical genius.

  • Mary A McDonough

    A most beautiful and fitting tribute to a great soul… Thank you Scott

  • Ron Veldstra

    A wonderful and beautiful tribute. Thank-you Scott.

  • Boyd Andrus

    Loved David Bowie’s contribution to music…And I’m sure David would have loved your tribute…You’re amazing Scott…

  • Dr What

    Very nice. My sentiments exactly…

  • Jay Cuasay

    From one pianist to another, thanks for putting hands on the man’s music to help us keep in touch, give thanks, and pay respects.

  • Liz

    Thanks. Scott.Just beautiful.

  • Matthew Wright

    #Bowiecrying

  • plymbuzz

    wow