When David Bowie's performance of Starman was beamed into living rooms around Britain in 1972 it ignited something. That singular pop music moment not only launched Bowie into the new level of fame and socio-cultural influence, it also had a profound effect on so many people I know, myself included. It has produced at least a couple of really interesting books over the years including a recent one from UKGQ magazine editor Dylan Jones called, When Ziggy Played Guitar, and the latest book from philosopher Simon Critchley, simply called Bowie.
I read it from beginning to end in one sitting, it's less than 200 small pages--essentially short, one or two page encapsulations of Bowie's work, his impact, some philosophical engagement and canny insights from someone whose work I connect with. Critchley, gets Bowie completely, or at least he captures the Bowie I have connected with for years.
For me there were no Beatles or Rolling Stones, the only music I listened to before DB was from the blues/r+b/soul/reggae world of my musical youth-bowie shifted the ground beneath my feet, gave voice to my particular coming-from-nowhere-in-britain frustrations and desires and opened up just about everything to me, including the way I thought about and engaged with the world on many levels. Over the years Bowie has been a constant (even the Tin Machine years!!) and I waited for a decade like many of his fans for new work, convoinced that all the stories were false and that eventually post-reality, post-heart problems, the man would once again deliver music, and out of nowhere (where he seems to reside) came The Next Day and it's plaintive single, Where Are We Now? and we were off again.
Critchley takes snippets of Bowie's lyrics, personnae and reflects on them via his canny philosohical lens--he undoes our fascination with narratvie idea, what he calls the 'lie that stands behind the idea of the memoir,'--disconnects fact from truth and argues that falsity and inauthencticity are necessary to truth-telling-speaks of bowie's ability to 'deworld the world-and so much more.
It's a fan's book, but much more. If you are not a fan of Bowie, and they exist of course (how I fail to understand but there you go!!), you could still get a lot about life from this little book and i highly recommend it.
"For in truth, it's the beginning of nothing /And nothing has changed
Everything has changed/
For in truth, it's the beginning of an end
And nothing has changed/ Everything has changed"
A trailer for the movie that is soon to be released about Nick Cave. I am still processing the amazing experience of seeing Cave and the Seeds this past weekend at the Shrine. Truly one of the more compelling musical experiences I've had in a long time--they are simply spell-binding in live performance.
I'm a fan of Mark Ryden, whose latest exhibit The Gay Nineties West, has just opened at LA's Kohn Gallery. As a companion piece Ryden enlisted a number of musican friends Tyler the Creator, Weird Al, Katy Perry, Nick Cave, Kirk Hammett, Mark Mothersbaugh and more to record original covers of the song "Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)." It's a quirky bonus for his already unique artwork.
"Life is about seeing for me. I'm very voyeuristic." Nick Cave
A man is going to Geneva to discover the nature of matter and the possibility of the absence of a God and on the way he is seeing through history various tableaux of spiritual collapse which ends with a vision of Miley Cyrus floating in a swimming pool. This is how Nick Cave explains the meaning of Higgs-Bosun Blues, the nine-minute epic from Push The Sky Away, the most recent release from Cave and the Bad Seeds. It's a remarkable explanation for a song on so many levels. The song aches with melancholy and resignation and yet...there is always that 'yet' with Cave, it is never fully realized into a fully-fledged answer or response to the abyss, to the absence, but there are hints that all can be well without that. You can watch the interview and hear more about his process and views on song-writing below.