David Robert Jones a.k.a. Bowie would have turned 77 today. Still not all that old, really.

Of course you have to wonder what he would have done with those extra years. especially given the creative momentum he had when death so rudely interrupted. Apparently even before the release of Blackstar he was on the phone to Tony Visconti plotting his next album.

Alas.

As it happens, next up in the chronology is “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” which as the last song on the last album holds a special place in the canon. I’ve always taken that title to mean “I’m not telling you how I did it. That would ruin it for you.”

But he does tell us this:

Saying no but meaning yes
This is all I ever meant
That’s the message that I sent

David was not a sentimentalist. His first big hit was about an astronaut committing suicide. And by and large his oeuvre was pretty dark — that’s the no.

But there is affirmation in the simple act of creation. That’s the yes.

After a half-century’s work, he left behind a mystery that we will never get to the bottom of. Still there are surprises — for instance, this version of “I Can’t Give Everything Away” — it’s different from the album version, is it not?


As we all know, David shares a birthday with Elvis Aron Presley, born 1935. The King would be only 89! Also not all that old, all things considered.

This week news broke that a computer-generated Elvis hologram would be doing concerts soon. It seems inevitable that this will happen to David Bowie too. So far his estate has been pretty careful about protecting his legacy — for instance denying the use of his music to the disastrous Stardust movie — but sooner or later it seems likely to come to pass.

If done right, it could be entertaining. I’m not saying that I’ll go, but I’m not saying I won’t. I can’t give everything away.