Tuesday, January 12, 2016
As I continue to wrap my head around yesterday's shocking David Bowie news, I've been scrambling for the proper soundtrack. I have never found listening to music so difficult, and I don't mean in ways that are usually associated with losing someone. This isn't a bad break-up, where all songs remind you of the girl. This isn't the loss of a loved one or companion, where silence may work best. This one has caught everyone off guard. I found myself walking aimlessly around the house like Anne Bancroft at the end of 'Night Mother. Yes, those circumstances were far more intense, but the exercise of keeping busy and trying to work, while ignoring the elephant in the room, were not so different.
I began with "Blackstar," listening for the first time, knowing what I know now. Is it wrong to now think the record is a work of art? I didn't feel that on Sunday. I believe it now.
I went backwards and listened to "The Next Day," as if searching for more clues.
Look into my eyes he tells her
I'm gonna say goodbye he says yea
Do not cry she begs of him goodbye yea
All that day she thinks of his love yea
Here I am
Not quite dying
My body left to rot in a hollow tree
Its branches throwing shadows
On the gallows for me
And the next day
And the next
And another day
That was 2013.
I jumped to 1977 and put on "Low." I thought that would work on two levels, getting loud on Side One, and closing my eyes for a meditative listen on Side Two.
Nothing was really satisfying. I knew I wanted more, I wanted to hear more. Not now, though. I wanted more later. Like a year or so later. And that reality made the listening all the more complicated.
At 6:30 this morning, as I sipped a coffee, I started playing songs randomly off of my computer, enjoying the odds and ends, as they caught me off guard, much like their author.
It began with an alternate take of the Tom Verlaine cover "Kingdom Come," originally found on Scary Monsters. I enjoy the unreleased take more with the less exaggerated lead vocal.
I jumped to the U.S. single version of "Rebel, Rebel," which quite frankly, kicks the "Diamond Dogs" version's ass.
Then, it was Bowie's guest spot with David Gilmour on the Syd Barrett gem, "Arnold Layne."
This continued until about 8:00 and that's when I put something together.
I added some other oddities, including the 1979 remake of "Space Oddity," a somewhat countrified version of "Queen Bitch" from a 1971 BBC session, a 1995 rehearsal take of "Andy Warhol" from Elstree Studios, recorded prior to the Nine Inch Nails tour, a BBC recording of "The Bewlay Brothers" from 2002, possibly the very first time the song was ever performed live, "Isn't It Evening," a track from Earl Slick's excellent solo LP, "Zig Zag," and a few others, which you may enjoy.
This whole thing is going to take some time, so bear with me.