Thursday Things (Mostly About Bowie)

1. I’m reading a great (for music nerds) book called Bowie in Berlin: A New Career in a New Town by Thomas Jerome Seabrook. The book covers the creation of David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy (the albums Low, “Heroes” and Lodger), as well as Iggy Pop’s Bowie-collaborations The Idiot and Lust for Life and Bowie’s film work of the period (The Man Who Fell to Earth and Just A Gigolo). I watched The Man Who Fell to Earth again last night (it’s directed by Nicolas Roeg, one of my alltime faves) for the first time in twenty-plus years, and was struck by what an evocative piece it is, especially having listened recently to those Berlin albums, especially Low and “Heroes”. Those albums offer music from the future, the sorts of things that Bowie’s alien character in the film might have created, and the anomie and dislocation that define the film and those albums are clearly cut from the same cloth, one apparently woven from the fabric of Bowie’s drug-induced psychosis at the time. Harrowing stuff, all around.

2. And speaking of Bowie, my fave albums of his are the aforementioned Berlin Trio, plus Station to Station and Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps), in large part because those albums feature the utterly astounding rhythm section of Dennis Davis (drums), George Murray (bass) and Carlos Alomar (rhythm guitar). These guys were so good, and so cool, and so soulful, that the magic of those albums often hangs on the weird balance of three spectacularly gut-punching American musicians working massive grooves on behalf of a pair of pointy-headed intellectual white Englishmen (Bowie and Brian Eno) and their Brooklyn Tuff producer, Tony Visconti, plus various lead guitarists. I can’t speak highly enough of their work, and I think that Bowie’s decision to drop them after Scary Monsters is one of the greatest avoidable musical misfortunes of that era. (Alongside Ian Anderson’s decision to cut John Evan and Barriemore Barlow out of Jethro Tull, and Paul McCartney’s decision to disband Wings).

3. And speaking further of Bowie, would it be weird if I confessed that his song “Joe the Lion” (from “Heroes”) is one of my permanent background earworms? When my brain is semi-engaged, it tends to pick lines of certain songs and loop them until I decide to think about something else and knock the mental Muzak out of its groove. The segment of “Joe the Lion” that gets stuck in my head over and over again is the eliptical first verse, featuring these words “Joe the Lion went to a bar, a couple of drinks on the house and he said ‘I’ll tell you who you are, if you nail me to my car.'” I also have segments of Public Enemy’s “One Million Bodybags” and “Burn Hollywood Burn” and The Foundations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup” that feature regularly in my brain’s background noise. That probably would be weird to confess, wouldn’t it? Uh, forget I brought it up.

4. Not speaking of Bowie . . . hmmm . . . . I guess I don’t have anything else to discuss. Ta!

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