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Life Stuff - "Rebel Rebel"

by Michael Kenyon

At 21, my father finished medical school and the South African government decided the best use of his brain was sending him to war. The Angolan Border Wars, specifically. My mom became a single mom, living off R400 ($32.50 CAD) a month sent by the army. She’d buy one chicken and make it last all week — for 112weeks. During this time, she’d hear Bowie release “Tonight” and watch as he starred as Jareth in the film Labyrinth.

As the apartheid fell, my family immigrated to Canada. It was around this time that Bowie married Iman and released Tin Machine II. When I was 9 years old, my parents re-purchased the record player they sold leaving Africa; they pulled a few records they’d kept from their teens out of storage and showed them to me. A side of them I’d never seen: Rocky Horror, Magic Flute, Giant Steps, Sgt. Pepper, Houses Of The Holy, Carpenters. The only albums they both owned were Diamond Dogs, Ziggy Stardust, and A Night At The Opera. Unfortunately, this new inspiration meant I awkwardly grew out my hair and became unashamed of reimagining myself. You can imagine my parent’s disappointment when I left university to become a musician. They’re my biggest supporters, but they made a huge mistake introducing me to David Bowie.

Bowie said: “music’s a journey of self discovery” and I see “Rebel Rebel” as an homage to the 60s rockers he listened to. Bowie presents an inscrutable image of himself. It feels like I never saw him evolve in front of my eyes until the end of his career. He always knew what he wanted to show his audience; I truly respect this and have a lot of gratitude towards his art.