Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Wear the Eye Patch, Brett. Wear the Funky, Funky Eye Patch: 5 Bowie Songs
Oh, David Bowie. You androgynous space man freak. For a long time I was reluctant to embrace Bowie’s music. When I was in the fourth grade, I stayed home from school sick. During that day I sat in my basement and watched The Labyrinth while eating a slice of lemon morang pie that I found in the fridge. Now, this wasn’t a Ferris Buehler sick day. I was miserable. And I remember sitting in the dark, watching the Goblin King and his huge bulge. Remember his bulge? I then looked down at a half eaten piece of pie and had to choke back the vomit. I remember thinking, “I hate this moment. I hate this pie, I hate this movie and I hate that spiky haired guy with the bulge.” As a result, I hated lemon morang pie and I refused to listen to Bowie until about five years ago.
Foolish. Completely foolish. The man has made some great Rock and Roll. Don’t get distracted by the gay, sparkly glam crap. And man, it sure can be gay. But, just listen to the music. I really only like his early stuff (his first 8 albums up to Diamond Dogs). He lost his way in the 80's. Most great artists from the 60's and 70's did (Paul, what the hell?). By the way, I have also changed my mind of lemon morang pie. Delicious.
The title of this entry is taken from a line from Flight of the Conchords. If you haven’t seen it, then reform your ways and do it now. The show is about two musicians from New Zealand that are trying to make it in New York. In this clip, Bret (the weedy shy guy) has a dream in which his band mate Jermaine (the ogre looking one) appears to him as David Bowie to give him advice about the music business. Enjoy.
Space Oddity – Space Oddity 1969
Bowie always fuses his music with Science Fiction imagery. Here we have story about an astronaut hero that dies by flying too high. It’s a pretty clear reference to drug using rock stars.
Star Man – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars – 1972
I place this album very high on the list of the great records of all time. I have no idea where exactly. But it’s up there. Star Man is one of its definitive songs.
Song For Bob Dylan – Hunky Dorey – 1971
I love the lead guitar in this song. It sounds like happy crying. One of the first songs Dylan recorded was entitled “Song for Woody Guthrie”. This is a second generation of such a tribute. “A strange young man named Dylan, with a voice like sand and glue.” "You sat behind a million eyes and told them what they saw." Perfect.
All the Young Dudes - All the Young Dudes 1972
Alright, so this one is cheating. This song is by Mott the Hoople. But it was written and produced by Bowie. Mott the Hoople was just his ventriloquist dummy. According to the song credits on Wikipedia, Ian Hunter sang lead vocals on this recording. I say that’s a lie. This has to be David Bowie singing this. At the very least it’s a convincing impression of Bowie. Either way I give him total credit for this song.
Life on Mars – Hunky Dory 1971
David Bowie was a busy man in 1971 and 72. Not only did he release the best work of his career, he also produced Lou Reed’s album Transformer. Transformer could very well be my single favorite record of the 1970’s. And there was no shortage of all time great records from that decade. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
Life on Mars illustrates Bowie theatrical tenancies in his music and lyrics. This is an apocalyptic science fiction tales of human destruction disguised as a show tune. It has such a bright and happy piano that is accented by that same weeping guitar we heard in Song For Dylan and All the Young Dudes. Damn it, I love the sound of that guitar.
One More – Here is a video from the aforementioned episode of Flight of Conchords. Bowie/Jermaine appears to Bret again to offer more career advice. It then turns into an affectionate satire of Bowie’s song writing and imagery. “Does the space cold make your nipples go pointy?” I don’t know why, but it makes me laugh every time.