Last week was a struggle. I’d planned on quitting my job by Jan 4th and taking a few months off. But plans changed and my escape from corporate banality was delayed. It got all the more depressing when a reminder popped up on my phone (which I’d put there in June, 2015), which read: “YOU QUIT YOUR JOB TODAY!!!”
I came tumbling off The Wagon over the weekend – the call of Manhattan (the drink, not the place) was too strong.
Take Two, I thought. Let’s get back on this donkey and ride it out of Shitsville.
This morning I get a text from my best friend:
My initial thought was that he didn’t like the new album. It’s a grower, for sure, but I reckon it’s got some of his best tunes since Let’s Dance. Although, the lazy reviews that refer to Blackstar as a “jazz” album because it has a few saxophone solos on are way off. It’s a weird, beautiful collection of songs.
So, sipping on black coffee, I went to bbc.com and 2016 got very bleak indeed.
Fuck. Bowie. Jesus. Bowie.
I get a little sick of the barrage of shit posts about how the death of a celebrity like, really personally affects them, man. But in this instance, it just broke my heart. Of course, he’s old and he’s had an incredible life, but still…Bowie?
Between 1970 and 1980, he released 12 albums, and (with the possible exception of Pip Ups) they were all brilliant. I started with the obvious – Ziggy Stardust. My parents bought me the CD for my thirteenth birthday. I was sick then. Vomiting bug.
I still can’t really listen to Five Years without wanting to blow chunks (bringing that phrase back – deal with it). That was some unfortunate Pavlovian conditioning.
But by the time it got to Moorage Daydream and you can hear Mick Ronson’s guitar pretty much breaking, I was sold.
From then on, his back-catalogue was a wonderful voyage of discovery. Aladdin Sane still sounds dangerous.
Diamond Dogs still sounds grandiose – a gothic, glam masterpiece.
Young Americans is just what music should fucking sound like.
And Station To Station…Christ, there’s the killer.
“It’s not the side effects of the cocaine / I’m thinking that it must be love
I have yet to hear a better lyric.
But wait a minute…Bowie’s not done yet. The Berlin trilogy (of which “Heroes” is probably my favourite) flicks between unhinged pop music and sweeping, krautrock soundscapes.
This is the same guy who released Changes only 6 years previous.
Scary Monsters. Robert Fripp at the top of his game and Bowie in a clown suit. I’ll take that.
And then, finally, yields to the lure of pop music and releases Let’s Dance. Which is also fucking gold (although the Moroder-produced single of Cat People tops the album version).
From then on, things get a little rough. The eighties.
I’m not even going to talk about Tin Machine.
Despite the fact the nineties weren’t terribly well regarded, if I’ve had one wine spritzer too many at a party and someone’s dumb enough to allow me near the stereo, I’ll put on his Earthling album and wax lyrical about its underrated genius. But I’m sober right now, so you’ll have to make up your own mind.
I went to the Bowie exhibition at the V&A, a few years ago. He kept everything in pristine condition. Lyrics and coke spoons in glass cases. The boiler suit from the Outside-era. It was surprisingly intimate.
In an industry rife with dickheads, he always came across a lovely chap.
Dies two days after releasing the best album of the year. Typical fucking Bowie.
I always felt Bowie was borrowed, like he wasn’t of this world. I guess we had to give him back someday.