December 5, 2011

OPEN THREAD: David Bowie

This is an OPEN THREAD.  Post screed in the comments, please.

TOPIC: David Bowie.

Conversation starters:

1. Guess some of the many reasons I hate David Bowie and win a prize!

2.  Why does D. Bowie divide rather than unite us?

3.  Can you justify "China Girl" as a real live political critique?

4. Would you wear this T-shirt?



  1. But wait -- what about "Absolute Beginners"?

  2. See, here is the thing: I can (and do) enjoy a lot of stuff that is, shall we say, Bowie-adjacent. And I have a couple LPs, and probably had at least 2 different cassette copies of "Best Of" back in middle school. Some stuff he does is killer.

    But when I listen now--it's like all my Bowie receptors are full up. Some songs are great, but even "Life on Mars," "Ziggy Stardust," or "Rebel Rebel" leaves me bored. The tuneful songs are almost too tuneful. It's not for nothing that my favorite Nirvana song is "The Man Who Sold the World."

    Bowie in "Absolute Beginners" (movie) is kinda great in that dessicated wood popsicle stick way he has. The song? Eh.

    It's collaborations that show his gift and limitations, I think. "Under Pressure" is a song I never began to appreciate til my 30s. Freddie's parts just get more and more amazing to me; Bowie's thin, benevolent-creep warbles set off Freddie perfectly, but just leave me itchy.

    Plus, alter egos are one thing, but the Thin White Duke? I hate cocaine and Nazis. I mean, COME ON.

  3. Oh, and for the record, NO: I cannot defend "China Girl" in any way, shape, or form.

  4. I'm pretty sure that you actually love cocaine and Nazis. Or at least want to.

  5. I have long been partial to "Lady Stardust," but only the live studio version on Bowie at the Beeb. His approach these reminds me a little bit of Billie Holiday singing the blues, like he's really putting his shriveled heart into it.

    Also, bear in mind that there's something about Bowie's repertoire that (similar to what Sasha Frere-Jones's wrote about Tom Waits recently) isn't really part of rock, but rolls along adjacent to it, in this case chewing on it like a parasitic lamprey eel. I think you hate Bowie because he doesn't actually have an original bone in his body. Every move merely rides the waves that others have set in motion.

    But oh, what a surfer!

  6. Interesting point, Scott. I love the Kinks partly because of the English music-hall, syrupy faux nostalgia that's mixed in with the stripped-down RAWK that is my only god. But with Bowie, yeah, it's like he is a master of genre. Recent Cee-Lo Green is a good example of this, of just busting out the hottest hits in various genres. But Cee-Lo doesn't pose as a coked-out Nazi, so that earns him points in my book.

    My main argument is that Bowie is problematic in general, and irritates me in particular. I might wear that T-shirt if only because it appears that Bowie's eyes have been gouged out, which is creepy. Also, I had an extremely ill-fated whirlwind intercontinental romance with a dude who kinda styled himself like Bowie from the neck up. That might influence my thinking here too.

    Who will comment on CHINA GIRL, THEME FROM CAT PEOPLE, and LET'S DANCE? There are similarities that run through those songs, obviously, but to much different ends.

  7. Here's the off-the-top-of-my-head comment totally unthoughtout comment: I don't like much Bowie, but I do like Let's Dance. Probably because it seems like such a morbidly joyless song about dancing. It somehow manages to evoke both 50's sock-hops and Bela Lugosi.

  8. Mr. Dithers,

    50's sock-hops meet Bela Lugosi is my new favorite description of anything, although it's probably most most apt for Taco. What else? I MUST KNOW.