I’m Not Losing Sleep

sleep

I’m Not Losing Sleep. (starts 2:40 in)

Tony Hatch’s time producing Bowie, having resulted in nothing but flops, is about to end, so this is something of his Pickett’s Charge. In desperation he tries to turn Bowie into Petula Clark (the “too bad!” backing vocal line basically nicks the chorus of “Downtown”). The result’s a thematic mess, class-struggle braggadocio from a “street” dandy (“though I dress in RAGS, I’m richer!/though I eat from TINS I’m wealthier!/though I live in SLUMS I’m purer than YOU my friend!!“). It’s working man’s defiance punctuated by flute trills.

But it’s pretty great too. Turns out Bowie thrives in this sort of tinted spotlight—so far he’s not been able to match his peers or his influences, whether in soul or rock & roll (Bowie even sings “I can get my satisfaction” here in a waspish way), but he’s developed a talent for camp and pointed extravagance (stage performances of the time ended with Bowie doing “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, wearing “skin-tight trousers and a sweater, flinging out his arms like a vision of Garland herself” (Christopher Sandford)).

So while the “street” the singer’s on may be no more than stage scrim, the artifice suits him better—he’s cutting, self-righteous, something of a mod Katherine Hepburn in drag. The simulacrum is brighter than any shopworn realism; all tomorrow’s disguises, from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke, are first visible here.

Recorded 5 July 1966 and released on 19 August 1966 as the b-side to “I Dig Everything”; on Pye Singles.

One Response to I’m Not Losing Sleep

  1. J.R. Clark says:

    “a mod Katherine Hepburn in drag” – BRILLIANT.

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