I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday

Cosmic Dancer (Morrissey and Bowie, live, 1991).
I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday (Morrissey).
I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday (Morrissey, live, 1992).
I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday (Bowie).
Drive-In Saturday (Morrissey, live, 2000.)
I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday (Morrissey, live, 2005).

The Last of the International Playboys are Bowie, Bolan, Devoto and me.

Do you see similarities between yourself and Bowie?

What, the living Bowie or the present dead one? The living Bowie, there are some, yes. Yes, I do see similarities.

Morrissey, NME interview, February 1989.

Morrissey is what would have happened if Bertie Wooster and David Bowie had a son.

Ken Tucker, “Alternative Scenes: Britain,” The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock ‘n’ Roll, 1993.

In the autumn of 1980, Steven Morrissey began exchanging letters with a fellow music enthusiast, a Scot named Robert Mackie. The 21-year-old Morrissey was holed up in his room in Manchester, reading, obsessing over Ealing comedies, Sandie Shaw records and Joan Crawford films, writing letters to the music press. In his letters to Mackie, Morrissey rubbished the former’s musical tastes (Kate Bush is “unbearable,” “all electronic music is a sad accident”) and rebuked him for never having seen David Bowie live. (He conceded that Mackie owned far more Bowie albums, but anyone could buy a record.) Granting Bowie the capitalized pronoun once reserved for gods and kings, Morrissey noted that he’d seen “Him” perform 14 times between 1972 and 1976 alone.

And to Morrissey, Bowie once had been a god or a king. “He was so important to me because his vocal melodies were so strong and his appearance was so confrontational,” Morrissey recalled in 2009. “Manchester then was full of bootboys and skinheads and macho-macho thugs, but I saw Bowie’s appearance as the ultimate bravery. To me, it took guts to be David Bowie, not to be a shit-kicking skinhead in a pack.” When Morrissey bought the “Starman” single in the summer of 1972, he “fell in love with the potency of the pop moment…the pop moment in my life was the only thing that ever spoke to me.”

A decade later, Morrissey met Bowie for the first time in Manchester, backstage at a “Sound + Vision” show in August 1990. By that time, of course, Morrissey had founded and disbanded a group that had played the same role for disaffected Eighties teenagers as Bowie had for Morrissey, and he was becoming a pop star on his own, with four UK top 10 hits. And one night in June 1991, as Morrissey was playing the Inglewood Forum in Los Angeles, Bowie came on stage to sing T. Rex’s “Cosmic Dancer” with him. The crowd went fanatic: you can barely hear Bowie and Morrissey above the din in recordings. It seemed that Bowie was anointing Morrissey as heir presumptive of glam, using a Marc Bolan song as coronation hymn. The succession continued in 1993, when Bowie covered a Morrissey song on Black Tie White Noise, with, again, another glam legend roped into the proceedings. Bowie sang “I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday,” a song originally produced and arranged by Mick Ronson.

There was sly dig in Bowie’s song choice, as “I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday” was, in his view, Morrissey’s attempt at a Ziggy Stardust-era belter; in particular, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide,” whose coda saxophone arrangement Morrissey might as well have sampled. “It occurred to me that he was spoofing one of my earlier songs, and I thought, I’m not going to let him get away with that,” Bowie later said.

Bowie repaid the favor by singing “Someday” in a pitch of sustained grandiosity. He said he wanted to do “Someday” as though he was performing it on the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974: decadent, fervent, unhinged, slick (Brett Anderson rightly noted that Bowie was channeling Johnnie Ray again). However, the resulting track lacked the spirit of camp, the bite of parody. It was leaden and forced, its centerpiece a dull guitar solo by Wild T. Springer and its mix accorded great glops of overbearing chorus vocals and horns. Bowie’s vocal didn’t measure up to his intended latter-day Ziggy Stardust: you could hear him strain sometimes, with his vocal fills before the closing “wait, don’t lose faith” especially gruesome. Slowing the song down to a thudding 4/4 instead of the whirling 12/8 of the Morrissey original only served to spotlight the track’s shortcomings.

Bowie intended “Someday” to be high camp, a silly goose of a silly song (in his video, Bowie holds a cigarette lighter aloft and solemnly sways his arms during the guitar solo), and as such it was a cynical misreading. Morrissey’s track begins and closes with long stretches of static and drifting pieces of radio flotsam, with the song proper suddenly appearing over a minute in, briefly shimmering into range and then fading into the void again, as though it was a broadcast sent from behind enemy lines. Its tone is wholly sincere, its message one of constancy and commitment, a pledge to adolescents of any age that they will somehow get through it (it seemed Morrissey’s take on “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as much as it was a Bowie tribute). Like the young Bowie, Morrissey had been a professional fan before he was a star, and his work was one long negotiation with and tribute to his fans. At the end of the “Everyday Is Like Sunday” video, the mousy-haired anomic heroine finds Morrissey through her spyglass and sees that he’s wearing her face on his T-shirt: she’s his idol as much as he’s hers. If “Someday” was absurd, as Bowie seemingly thought it was, it was because pop music itself, the promises it made and the beliefs it offered, was absurd.

Morrissey said he loved Bowie’s cover, and for a time the two kept up their mutual admiration society. This culminated in late 1995, when Bowie asked Morrissey to open for him on a round of UK and European dates. From the start there was tension, from the publicity materials (which touted Morrissey as a “very special guest” but only featured Bowie’s photograph) to sound check times. Morrissey occasionally opened sets with “Good evening, we are your support group” and contended with hecklers: critics found his performances both enervated and desperate-seeming. The Morrissey fans (“a crowd, that is, of precisely 11 rows deep and 20 seats across,” Melody Maker‘s Jennifer Nine sharply noted) would typically pack off as Bowie’s set began, and it didn’t help the atmosphere in the stands that Bowie was playing few old hits and intended to assault audiences with his new industrial-inspired music (as we’ll see in early 2013).

Morrissey said the breaking point was Bowie’s conceit (used with Nine Inch Nails earlier in the tour) that during Morrissey’s last song, members of his group would slowly walk off stage and be replaced by Bowie’s band, until as a climax Morrissey would go into a Bowie song and be joined by Bowie, sweeping in from upstage. Bowie thought it would make for great theater; Morrissey saw it as a diva move that would deprive his fans of a proper closing number. [This story is possibly dubious, see comments.]

So after only nine shows, Morrissey left the tour before an Aberdeen gig, allegedly without informing Bowie. A few years later, Morrissey was still seething, grousing that Bowie was a has-been and a charlatan. “You have to worship at the temple of David when you become involved with him.” In another interview, he said Bowie “is no longer David Bowie at all. Now he gives people what he thinks will make them happy, and they’re yawning their heads off. And by doing that, he is not relevant. He was only relevant by accident.” (Bowie, always the gentleman or at least one more press-savvy, kept mum, only saying that Morrissey had gone to a sound-check in Scotland, then got into a car and left, “and that’s the last we heard of him.”)

It was an ugly end to what had once seemed a graceful dialogue between generations, a volley between fans and former fans and idols. But perhaps the root of the break lies back in Bowie’s grotesque, vain interpretation of Morrissey’s song. The two reportedly never spoke again. While Morrissey seems to have made some sort of peace with Bowie, at least as a “living” memory, as he covered “Drive-In Saturday” on stage in 2000 and 2007, some recent snarky tweets by Duncan Jones suggest there may still be some sharp feelings on the Bowie side of the fence.

Moz sources: John H. Baker, “In the Spirit of ’69: Morrissey and the Skinhead Cult,” collected in Morrissey: Fandom, Representations and Identities; David Bret, Morrissey: Scandal & Passion; the “pop moment” quote is from the Irish Times, 1999. The complete Mackie/Morrissey correspondence is scanned here (there are plenty of DB references to be found, including Morrissey signing off a letter with “I’m unhappy, hope you’re unhappy too.”)

Recorded ca. summer-fall 1992, Mountain Studios, Montreux and Power Station NYC. Released in April 1993 on Black Tie White Noise.

Top: Les deux dames, in happier days, ca. 1991; Lucette Henderson, moody teenage dream girl and star of M’s “Sunday” video, 1989.

73 Responses to I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday

  1. humanizingthevacuum says:

    And so we go from the wonderful guitar solo in “Miracle Goodnight” to the grotesque one here.

  2. Diamond Duke says:

    Not bad, not bad…although I much prefer Morrissey’s original. Once again, Bowie’s attempting to get back into his mid-’70s “plastic soul” groove, much as he attempted to do on Labyrinth‘s Underground, and falls somewhat shy of the mark. Personally, I really like Wild T. Springer’s guitar solo. And yeah, Bowie’s vocal is a bit OTT, but certainly not as cringeworthy as God Only Knows from Tonight

    BTW, judging from footage shown in the BTWN video, I think Bowie first attempted to do this song with Mick Ronson, keeping to the original 12/8 rhythm (appropriately enough, considering that Ronson produced Morrissey’s Your Arsenal album, from whence the original came).

    As far as Bowie’s intended theatrical changeover from Morrissey’s band to his own…well, Bowie must have figured that since it worked with Nine Inch Nails, then it would work again. But I guess he didn’t really count on Moz being rather less amenable to the suggestion than Trent Reznor…

  3. david says:

    Never liked Morrissey. All that whiney,student bedsit Ennui-were all in it together. Complete bollocks. Regardless of the Mick Ronson connection, Bowie shouldn’t have touched it with a barge pole, and frankly I was relieved that the whinge bag had already spat his dummy out by the time I got to see the Outside gig.
    More bitter than Gary Numan, but without half the talent.

  4. MC says:

    As a huge Moz and DB fan, for some reason, this may be the saddest entry to date. Of course, the cover is awful, another grim travesty of a song that should have been a slam dunk for Bowie, for all the reasons mentioned. And it fits the album about as well as Across The Universe did Young Americans (whereas God Only Knows matched up with the rest of Tonight all too well).

    Still, amazing analysis all around. Speaking of Brett Anderson, I look forward to what you have to say about Suede, the great unsung band of the 90’s (at least on this side of the Atlantic).

    • BenJ says:

      I don’t know. This song just may have not been cover-able. So much of the original is tied up in the odd production and Moz’s enigmatic performance. Bowie can’t help but seem disappointingly staid, at any rate.

  5. Patrick says:

    While The Smiths may have been one of the best bands of the 80s, but Morrissey without Marr always promised more than he could deliver. The titles he would give to songs often striking and memorable but the music often always on the same level never quite meeting the ambitions of his ego, on his own. However the Morrissey track is not too familiar to me and I much prefer the original.

    I remember an early interview with him on John Peel – (and he rarely did live interviews on his nightly show) before I knew of the Smiths. All the usual “we’re the best band in the world ” bravado and thinking what a prize tosser. actually though for a short while he did , with the help of Marr, achieve that status that he craved for. He walked the walk as well as talked the talk , but it was the combination of his lyrics and Marr’s melodies. Well marketed with those film stills on the singles. Now he often comes across as sad and curmudgeon.

    Back to DB’s version , yeah the guitar solo is dull, the vocals overblown and over-melodramatic , making the song empty. Quite why he thought holding up the lighter was a good idea escapes me.
    Since M took a lead from early Ziggy Bowie , then DB sings that here, I’m reminded of that Conchords joke about going back in time to meet DB and playing his songs to him to give him the idea for his songs in the first place.

    • humanizingthevacuum says:

      I disagree. With the exception of the brilliance of the first Electronic album and collaborations with the Pretenders and Billy Bragg, Johnny Marr’s solo years have been a sad affair while Morrrissey’s from 1988 to 1994, despite a couple pitfalls, shows how, as Rob Sheffield once argued, in England a good guitarist is more easily exchanged than a good singer

      • Patrick says:

        My point is, they needed each other. It’s about the SONGWRITING. I’m not enamoured with much of what I’ve heard of M’s solo career . I wouldn’t call him a particularly good singer either. A good frontman certainly, for a time.

  6. Mike F says:

    Listening to this CD is jarring experience. Track 10, “Looking for Lester,” features the “hottest” (i.e., most obnoxious) 90s drum samples Niles could find. Then two seconds later on track 11, “It’s Gonna Happen Someday,” we are transported back to the 1970s with all live musicians. The synthesizers, drum machines, and jazz musicians have been sent packing. Now we have just good old fashioned bass, piano, drums, guitar, and backup singers.

    Bowie, who was not long ago casually speak-singing over his frog chorus, is now belting out this tune in such an over the top manner that surely the fate of human civilization must hang in the balance upon receiving its vitally important “please wait” message.

    I am sure there is a CD somewhere that this recording of “It’s Gonna Happen Someday” would fit on. Unfortunately, it does not fit on BTWN.

  7. Roman says:

    I wouldn’t take ANYTHING Morrisey has said about Bowie as Gospel.

    I was at that last show in Dublin (Mossisey left the tour that night and not the Scotland gig). It was at the Point Depot and during Morrisey’s gig there were about five hundred fans up front, while the rest of the arena stood around chatting or were out the back eating hotdogs and drinking. At one point Morrisey snapped, “Don’t worry, Uncle David will be on shortly!”
    He finished the set, and the crowd politely applauded and got ready for Bowie.

    Now, according to Morrisey, the crowd were yelling for an encore, but he couldn’t face another moment on tour with Bowie and so he drove off in his limo with the crowd still roaring his name, towards the airport.

    A few years ago, a friend of Reeves Gabrel’s, told me that the real story was that it was Morrisey who has PRESUMED there would be a switch over on stage, like the one with NIN. But it was only after he agreed to the tour did he realise that Bowie had NO INTENTION of sharing the stage with Morrisey, whose stock at that stage was much lower than today and was then seen as a major has-been.

    • Patrick says:

      Well the judge in the Smiths Royalties case did say: “Mr. Morrissey is a more complicated character. He did not find giving evidence an easy or happy experience. To me at least he appeared devious, truculent and unreliable where his own interests were at stake.”

    • col1234 says:

      Roman, pretty sure Cardiff (27 Nov 95) was the last DB/Moz show, with Moz leaving in a huff after the soundcheck two nights later in Aberdeen.

      agree that everything M’s said should be preceded with the disclaimer “quite possibly not true”

      • Roman says:

        Yeah, you’re right col1234. I just checked it up online. The reason I believed it was the Dublin gig, is because Morrisey himself says it was! Now I’m not interested in Morrisey, so I can’t reference where he said it, but it’s in one of his biographies (flicked through in the book shop while indexing all Bowie mentions :-) ,

    • twinkle-twinkle says:

      I’m sure it was Aberdeen where he did a runner after the sound check, the night before Glasgow, as I arrived for the Glasgow gig in the afternoon and heard the news on the local radio. I wondered at the time if it may have had something to do with Billy Mackenzie of the Associates – maybe illness or something emotional. I was trying to be generous in thinking there was a good reason for Mozza’s disappearance from my dream double-bill. (Moz and Billy had been ‘friends’ and he lived in Dundee).
      After the London shows a critic had perceptively noted that he didn’t expect Morrissey to stand and take the slating he was getting in the press (while Bowie was praised).
      At that time Moz appeared on ‘Later with Jools’ and looked old and ill at ease next to Jarvis Cocker and Pulp who totally ruled the evening, making Mozza’s new songs sound even duller and more plodding than they actually were.
      As for Bowie’s cover of Moz on BTWN, it is both OTT and deeply moving… and made Mozza cry with pleasure. I don’t think it was a p***-take. The whole album has many musical moods and I think it fits in fine. The video shows Bowie’s sense of humour, and I’d say he’s sending himself up, not the song.

  8. Sky-Possessing Spider says:

    I was in London in Nov 95 and was lucky enough to catch the show at Wembley. I’m a casual fan of Morrissey, but at the time I couldn’t wait for his slot to finish as I was anxious to see Bowie for the first time in eight years. Also, the Moz didn’t play much, if anything off “Yer Arsenal” or “Bona Drag”, the only two of his solo albums I own, so his set was a bit tedious for me.
    Chris, you’re right about a lot of the Bowie fans being put off by the new industrial material, and the lack of hits. I remember talking to an unimpressed fan after the show, who was the singer in a Ziggy-era tribute act called Aladdin Sane. He’d attended the show in red plastic wedge boots and a striped jumpsuit, expecting the old stuff, and didn’t feel that he got much bang for his buck.

    • twinkle-twinkle says:

      I have no sympathy for the so-called Bowie fans who turned up to the Outside tour looking for ‘hits’.

      To paraphrase the lad himself, Tony Hancock, “Does Tin Machine mean nothing to you?”(Actually, the line was Magna Carta – you had to be there).

      Tin Machine was a watershed. If you missed the point, tough! Anyway, you got hits and rare gems. ‘Look Back in Anger’, ‘MWSTW’, ‘Boys Keep Swinging’, ‘Andy Warhol’, ‘Teenage Wildlife’, ‘Niteflight’, ‘DJ’, ‘Under Pressure’, ‘Moonage Daydream’.

      And the ‘Outside’ album really came to life on stage too.

  9. Jasper says:

    I saw the show in Copenhagen. When I bought the ticket I was happy Morrissey was the support band, when it got to be the concert he was obviously not playing, and they had not announced what band would, so it was with some excitement getting there, having made a million guesses to who could be replacing him. It turned out to be a band made up of two danish bands for the occasion, and it sucked so much i forgot what they called themselves. Kim Wilde was his warm up when he did the S+V concert in Copenhagen that was fun. At another concert it was The Dandy Warhols, their drummer could not play, some injury I think, they sounded better than they usually do, having to rethink everything without drums must have been good.

  10. snoball says:

    I’ve always disliked this cover version. It completely lacks the human scale of Morrissey’s original.

  11. Joe the Lion says:

    I was at the London concert in Nov 95. I love Outside, luckily, and I have a long history of being pleased in the face of potential disappointment, so didn’t mind the lack of hits. I respectfully watched Morrissey’s set but don’t remember anything about it. It was my first time seeing Bowie, so I just wanted Morrissey off, I guess!

    Morrissey in more recent years have distinguished himself with a very grand curmudgeonliness. I even know of some fans who are finding it hard to defend him against his more OTT pronouncements. As a Bowie fan, I can partly empathise.

  12. Momus says:

    Bowie has always wisely avoided the monarchist honours system of OBEs, CBEs and knighthoods. But rock royalty has its own honours system, expressed by covers, tribute bands, hall of fame inductions. And here he’s been less successfully detached. Highlighting Morrissey’s adulation was as big a mistake as castigating Madonna’s upstart copycatism.

    • twinkle-twinkle says:

      One wonders that no one has asked Morrissey why he duetted with Bowie on ‘Cosmic Dancer’ around 1991 and then agreed to tour in ’95, given that he claims db was ‘dead’ by then, not having done anything worthwhile since 1970’s MWSTW. (Although it didn’t stop the teenage Mozza seeing db a couple of dozen times in concert through the 70’s).

      On his first tour after the Outside debacle, Moz wore paint splattered jeans in concert – db had worn paint splattered clothes on the Outside tour. Once a fan, always…

      And being an Uber-Bowie stalker, Mozza chose his album well. MWSTW was the album which Mick Ronson and Tony Visconti allegedly took most control of, as db was being distracted by Angela at the time.

      To claim that was db’s best work, or only work of real note, is also to imply it was so because of Ronno and Tony, whose bass playing is mixed to the fore.

  13. Jeremy says:

    Well, the great write up outshines this song! Can’t stand it!

    Morrissey – you prat!

  14. Maj says:

    Oh well. I hate Morrissey. I just don’t have enough patience for this grumpy old jerk and sadly, even though I do recognise some of his music (solo or with the Smiths) as being really strong, I can rarely bring myself to actually listen to any of his stuff.

    That said, my first time hearing his original version of Someday and yeah, it’s better than Bowie’s cover. The RNR Suicide coda is adorable. Still, quite forgettable.

    Bowie’s version of Someday always sounded bizarre to me. I’d known it was supposed to be high camp before I ever heard it (having read Nicholas Pegg’s book before buying the album) but it still doesn’t read that way to me. It’s just…weird.

    Hilariously enough it reminds me of this for some reason:

    Btw, thanks for the links to Duncan’s tweets, Chris. I did see two of them at the time of posting (the one with the blowjob especially made me laugh) but I missed the one with speed eating…

    For the record, my disdain for the Moz has nothing to do with the Bowie feud or him hating Kate Bush (had no idea abt that actually…but then it seems he hates a lot of things).

  15. Joe the Lion says:

    He does seem to hate a lot of things – but I’ve always been puzzled that anyone can hate Kate Bush. (I was listening to 50 Words for Snow today, and it’s so beautiful. Silly Morrissey. Maybe he’s changed his mind since.)

    Good point about the rock honours system – I think Bowie was still making amends in a way at this point. His pairing with Brett Anderson in NME and cover of a Morrissey song possibly as a way to undo tipping Paul Young as a talented singer in the 80s. Anyway, humility doesn’t suit Bowie.

    • twinkle-twinkle says:

      Even at the time I thought Bowie saying Paul Young was ‘an artist full of extraordinary potential’, was a warm generous comment when Paul was noticeably having the vocal problems which seem to have ended his career.

      We all know db preferred the raucous ‘Screaming Blue Messiahs’, with the ‘Pixies’ just around the corner.

      • humanizingthevacuum says:

        The Screaming Blue Messiahs album to which Bowie refers is good! So were the P-Furs before Bowie admitted he wanted to produce them (not like a Bowie production in ’87 would have prevented a record not dissimilar to “Midnight to Midnight”).

      • twinkle-twinkle says:

        Yeah – db had been ‘stroking the Furs’ since their first album. Fantastic band.

  16. Bavid Dowie says:

    What do you mean “As We’ll see in 2013?” Can someone fill me in?

    • col1234 says:

      nothing mysterious, man—at my current pace, I won’t get to “Outside” or its tour until early ’13.

      Ps–depending on how the hurricane goes, I may be without power/Internet for a bit this week (it’s becoming a Halloween tradition–last year, it was a blizzard that knocked us out). So the next entry may well take a while. Those of you in NYC and on the East Coast: stay safe.

      • Maj says:

        Tou too, Chris!

      • Bavid Dowie says:

        Oh, right, a small, optimistic part of me assumed there was some new Bowie stuff coming out in early 2013. Alas, I’ll keep praying for a new album.

        Keep up the great work!

      • Sky-Possessing Spider says:

        Yeah, you and me both. (Though not everyone around here would agree.)

      • Momus says:

        Bowie began by imitating Jacques Brel, and — you never know — may do what Brel did, and release a final album ten years after the previous one. Which would be 2013.

      • twinkle-twinkle says:

        To Momus, on guessing right about the date of the new Bowie album in 2013 – you spooky Aquarian you!

        Other spooky coincidences. Bowie has a half-sister who married a Muslim and they changed her name to Iman. Bowie’s heart problem was in 2004, aged 57yrs, the same age his father died. His half-brother committed suicide aged 47yrs – Bowie born in 1947.

        I always remember an article in ’73 in a mag called, ‘Music Scene’ (?). The heading was, ‘DB, Superstar Who’s a Fan at Heart’. It was all about DB’s love of Iggy and Lou Reed. I’m sure the fan in Bowie has enjoyed the ‘John Lennon house-husband’ and ‘Scott Walker recluse’ tags he’s been getting these past 5 to 10yrs.

        I’ll bet the ‘one-off’ Led Zep O2 London gig, the proposed Michael Jackson O2 gigs, and the love and clamour for tickets for Leonard Cohen back in 2008 did not fail to register on his antennae. And let’s not forget Sinatra and J. Brel’s retirements. (Even a great Mad-chester band with one good album and a crap singer can still draw crowds years after splitting).

        However, unless the croaky McCartney and Pete ‘n’ Roger can raise the dead, or Elton gets his voice back to re-imagine his best work, what is there left for Bowie’s contemporaries to do to excite interest? Yet another ‘almost the Stones’ tour dragging it’s wrinkled bony ass out one more time?

        So, Bowie saying no gigs and Visconti saying maybe is either one big tease to keep people interested further down the line, (because he can’t do the ‘let the dying rumours spread unchecked’ trick again), or we may be lucky one more time.

        I don’t mean that disparagingly; anyone who thought he was at home knitting is no true fan. This guy hasn’t wasted a minute of his life, and certainly isn’t going to start during these last valuable years. The media like simple black and white stories and will make up what they are not being given.

        Still, Bowie enjoying weaving misconceptions and the vagaries of life into his own myth making did not guarantee the warm outpouring of affection we saw on 8th Jan 2013. It was a joy to hear hard bitten political reporters on the BBC get all excited and dewy eyed at his return to recording.

  17. tin man says:

    Good parody of a good song which was originaly created by Morrissey as a parody of Bowie’s manierist stuff. I think ex-The Smith singer is a great artist in English (English Heart, Irish Blood…) pop culture. He still fits very well the Glam thing… remember he was at the top of The New York Dolls fan club in England.

  18. tin man says:

    21 years ago, day by day, jour pour jour.., i was at Paris L’Olympia & it was Tin Machine live. Great Moment, Great Souvenir! Bowie was alive & well… in Paris

  19. tin man says:

    This is a message from France, old Europe:
    I wish you all American Friends the Best you should waiting for, the best Luck, the best Courage in these difficult days, i mean in these “Frankenstorm” days,
    sincerely,
    your friend tin man

  20. Vanus says:

    This is no criticism of my fellow posters, but A New Career in a New Town has a grand total of four comments whilst this pap garners 32 and counting. Is this is a case of the (wonderful) website simply getting more (much-deserved) attention these days, or is it just so obvious that Bowie in 1976/77 was untouchable that the need for comment is null and void? Truly, I’m interested.

    As for the comments that Morrissey is whiny, well yes, but then it’s half the point and the rest of the time in jest. Fine if you don’t go for it, but it would be a bit like disliking Bowie for having been changeable.

    • col1234 says:

      it’s almost certainly a matter of readership—lots fewer people back in the day, so “Changes” and “Aladdin Sane” have like 3 comments a piece, i think.

  21. Sky-Possessing Spider says:

    Hi Chris,
    Good to see you back online. Hope you got through Sandi O.K. It looked real bad on the news.

  22. Vanus says:

    Ah, there it is. Well, you’ve been doing a grand job of finding interesting things to say about Bowie’s leanest years. If you’d had the same number of followers two years ago, I expect the comments would run in to the hundreds.

    One similarity I’ve noted between Morrissey and Bowie is their somewhat iffy taste in music. Not poor per se, but always a bit off. Morrissey with The New York Dolls and one-trick ponies Sparks, Bowie sullying his good name through association with Placebo or the execrable Nine Inch Nails. I suppose if they had such finely-attenuated taste as my own, they’d be godawful musicians like me.

    • Stolen Guitar says:

      Agree with your sentiment regarding the attention this album is generating as opposed to the earlier material. I’m sure Chris’s reply is the real reason but this stuff is more contentious and is surely more exploitable for criticism as a result. Who, on this channel, is going to disagree with Chris about the truly great albums? The fact that he can mine some gold from this mainly shitty seam is a marvel; I’ve said it elsewhere but it bears repeating that this blog is about as good as it gets where Bowie is concerned. Hope I’m still alive by the time he gets around to ‘Slow Burn’…

      Can’t agree with you about Sparks…a one trick pony? Never, but, and it’s a contentious but, even if they are a one trick pony; isn’t it a great trick? Can’t think of many artists that have created anything comparable to ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us’. The album it comes off, ‘Kimono My House’ is still fresh and exciting (though not in a Kool & The Gang way, fortunately) today – a mere 38 years later.

    • twinkle-twinkle says:

      God – how have I got stuck on this page? Anyway. I love Sparks, the Dolls, NIN and Placebo. With Sparks and the Dolls you only need the greatest hits really – but what hits! One could even say that about Mott the Hoople too; ‘Dudes’ isn’t a great album, ‘Mott’ is. The early stuff is patchy. Great live tho’.

      Placebo – for the UK – and NIN – for the states – were the right bands at the right time for him to hang out with. It was his way of saying, ‘I’m not Elton or Rod’.

      But I’m sure he loved their energy. I think db was a little pissed at the stunning version of ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash. db had duetted it with Trent & NIN, but it was the right song at the right time for old JC.

      Funny things careers. Johnny Cash spent most of his life singing soppy and religious songs to the same old twangy country rhythm. Until those brilliantly produced final covers albums, we only needed the first few tracks off his greatest hits.

      Had he died before recording ‘Hurt’, he’d just be a moody old country dude. That song gave him renewed kudos and book-ended the early promise. The huge void in the middle is quietly forgotten.

      As for the man in black image; he once spent a few hours in a police cell, made a live album in a prison and took a few drugs, yet it is enough for people to have an image of him as a hell raising outlaw.

      I always thought Robert Zimmerman’s ‘troubadour Bob Dylan’, and Tom Waits, ‘hobo howling at the moon’, persona’s were as much artifice and construct as db’s Ziggy Stardust. Hands up anyone who believes Keef is actually a black pirate bluesman from America’s deep south? Keeping it real.

  23. Patrick says:

    Morrisey as the so called Patron Saint of Lost Causes also championed Jobriath.; A curious and ultimately tragic case. I remember the contempt the music mags had for him at the time.

  24. Vanus says:

    Bit before my time so I had to look that one up. Good God. It’s almost what Ziggy/Aladdin could have been if Bowie couldn’t hold a note, didn’t have an eye for style etc.

    Clearly, plenty of Morrissey’s tastes are beyond the pale. What interests me about Bowie’s is how reasonable they seem for a moment, then you listen to The Stooges and realise the only Iggy that’s any good is that which Bowie sullied with his infernal pop ways. Or just wrote. And played all over. And then produced and helped tour.

    • princeasbo says:

      “The only Iggy that’s any good is that which Bowie sullied with his infernal pop ways.”

      What, Raw Power is better than the first two Stooges? I don’t think so.

      • Vanus says:

        Marginally so, but they’re all overrated and more renowned for the influence they would come to have than their musical worth. Lust for Life & The Idiot are the absolute peaks of Iggy’s career and there’s a simple reason for that.

        Anyway, I was less trying to insult Iggy and the Stooges, more suggesting that Bowie has an interestingly dodgy track record when it comes to championing music. Arcade Fire, for instance, were interesting for five minutes, Goldie for less than that. And his love for Mott the Hoople was almost quaint. Charitable, even.

      • twinkle-twinkle says:

        Think of Iggy and it’s the covers of ‘Raw Power’, ‘The Idiot’ and ‘Lust for Life’, one thinks of. The music’s not half bad either. I think Bowie sees what is great, or potentially great, in someone and tries to bring that out and give it direction.

        Bowie is an eternal student/teacher. He wants to know how things work, absorb stuff, be enthused so he can create. The smart ones learn from him too. That’s how culture in it’s widest sense works.

        Some people have said, poor Ronno, he could have been big, but db treated him badly. I say, Mick was with Bowie for over 3yrs, worked on several classic albums and toured the world twice with the greatest performer of the day (and a few decades too).

        Mick Ronson, god bless him, could not have had a better grounding and springboard to launch his solo career. Bowie fans loved him and muso’s admired his playing. And he was handsome. But the fact is, he was a great guitarist, but not a star.

        The same goes for Wayne/Jayne County et al, only more so. Ian Hunter has written many great songs, but he still has to finish his set with ‘Dudes’.

        It’s terribly late and I’m rambling, goodnight world.

  25. Patrick says:

    Taking a hint from Iggy’s early recorded “pre-punk” work, artists are sometimes attracted to or admire those whose work and persona are the opposite of their own. DB’s often mannered controlled artificial performances, the opposite of Iggy’s visceral stage antics. There was an Apollonian/ Dionysian divide there. Iggy being the kind of “authentic” performer Bowie could never be, hence perhaps the disdain that DB had for “clones” as he once put it, like Gary Numan.
    He did as mentioned sometimes choose collaborators well (sometimes not) but but DB seemed to have a habit of flirting then dropping them abruptly if not falling out. For example I think it was after Klaus Naomi appeared with him on SNL , Bowie appeared enthusiastic on working with him more , but DB never got back to him or didn’t return calls if I remember the account correctly.
    The later years were a particular time when DB seemed to be playing the “trendy dad/uncle” (“do you want to see my Ziggy albums, son?”) with associations/endorsements with Goldie, Suede, Pet shop Boys. and others.

    • Vanus says:

      Spot on with the reasons for DB’s appreciation of Iggy, I’m sure. And much the same seems likely for Morrissey’s championing of the New York Dolls.

      Bowie’s apparent ability to go from enthusiastic collaborator (or would-be collaborator) to frosty is very much matched by Morrissey according to most accounts (see The Severed Alliance). I sat in some years ago on an interview with Michael Stipe, who had very recently been singing Morrissey’s praises and talking up their friendship. In the interim few months, Morrissey had apparently ceased replying to faxes (yes, faxes) with no word of explanation. Stipe didn’t seem too bothered, more perplexed.

      • Vanus says:

        It seems each had something of an intelligence bypass when dealing with the other, with Morrissey deeming Bowie ‘showie’ and businesslike and Bowie surprised by Morrissey’s truculent disappearing act. I mean, really, had neither of them heard nothing of the other?

    • twinkle-twinkle says:

      Re: Bowie’s collaborators.

      Just because Bowie get’s enthusiastic about something or someone and his attention moves on, does not mean they are ‘dropped with malice’.

      I’m sure it is very disappointing to feel Bowie’s attention and then life takes him off in another direction, but how many people send Xmas cards to EVERY friend they have EVER had ALL their lives? And if you did, you would be writing them all year and wouldn’t have a life.

      Think of the number of people Bowie has known and worked with. Can you imagine how many people want a piece of someone like db – daily? It’s no wonder he is hard to get hold of and needs someone like CoCo to filter and monitor his contacts.

      Actors in films were not always the first, or second, or third choice for the part. It’s the nature of the business, as it is for musicians in a different way. Bowie has had plenty long term collaborators as much as he has had short-lived musical affairs. Sometimes things click, sometimes they don’t.

      As for the ‘trendy dad/uncle thing’, it’s mutually advantageous perennial behaviour by musicians. The cool young turks love hanging out with their heroes, maybe getting anointed if they are lucky. The elder statesmen/women get their dull crowns buffed up by the edgy young talent. They all do it, or try to at some time or other.

      Bowie’s recent photo looking coldly Burrough-esque, sitting beneath the photo of his younger self back to back with Wm.S. Burroughs, is a brilliant self-referential menage a trois; he is hanging out with the cool young Bowie and the now dead writer hero. What a stunning image.

      Bowie is now able, because he has such a rich past, to collage his own life and work and draw something fresh from it. No need to hang out with passing fads and fancies when he can do it with himself, as it were.

      I just hope the new album cover is not what appears to be the new album cover. If it is, don’t put the title in the white square, leave it blank.

      Just change it db, please…

  26. gnomemansland says:

    OK so this is the best, possibly the only track worth listening to on the LP – a sweeping claim possibly shared by few so let me explain. I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday is a cover of a cover of a cover – a deliciously circular retelling that achieves through the process a salvation of sorts. Morrissey’s original is all Manchester pathos; the homeboy living with his mother, NME clippings in the top drawer, walking the streets in a second hand overcoat, yearning, hoping for some way out of the place, for an immaculate reconception of self. At the heart of the song though is failure. When Morrissey sings I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday you know it just isn’t gonna happen, today, or tomorrow, any day or in anyway. Morrissey using Rock N Roll Suicide as a template is singing to himself, or his former self. He has made the great escape but he sings to the mirror Morrissey still stuck in the Manchester bedroom chased home by catcalls from skinheads. It is an all but patronizing pat on the shoulder for his other self’s failure and implicitly in some way our own. Bowie takes the song and sings through it, back to the original or originals. Back to Rock N Roll Suicide and to every song that inspired that and to all the 50’s faded Vince Taylor inflections and influences that Morrissey so assiduously copied. In doing so he (almost inevitably) overblows it completely. It starts almost where it should end, tortured and tormented, crashing drums, strained vocals. For once in all of the overblown Bowie performances of the 80s and 90s this is perfect and just what is required. If Morrissey’s I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday is a song to slit your wrists to, Bowie’s is all stomach pump and salvation. His offer of hope is genuine. Maybe this is because Bowie like Morrissey was a star struck teenager who escaped suburbia but in Bowie’s case it was a genuine escape, it took longer but once away he rarely looked back. Morrissey in contrast for all his elder statesman and recent US chart success is stuck. Endlessly making LPs that sound just like the last. Hiring faceless musicians who sound just like Marr, forever (in his mind) revisiting haunts he has not seen for decades and bemoaning a lost Britain he has long since left. His other self cripples him continuously, Bowie in contrast may not have made a decent new record in years but in some way is free of all of that and his version of I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday is ultimately a validation of that freedom

    • col1234 says:

      Hats off. Applause. If there was ever a redemptive reading of this track, that’s it.

    • Momus says:

      Heroic attempt at redeeming Bowie’s version, gnomemansland, but isn’t it odd that someone who lived through the whole of the 1950s is so much worse at capturing that decade’s heroic balladry than someone who spent just a few months there as a baby? This is basically a Johnny Ray or Roy Orbison song remade for the age of CD.

      Morrissey doesn’t reference Rock’n’Roll Suicide until the coda, a full three minutes in, and neither does he reference the Brel songs that Bowie was channelling when he wrote R&RS (Jef, Amsterdam, Ces Gens-La). Morrissey’s first reference (you’re right about this) is to his own oeuvre: I Know It’s Gonna Happen Someday begins like Last Night I Dreamed That Someone Loved Me, and basically describes the same scenario, with false optimism replacing dream, but the same dramatic irony (for we, the listeners, neither know nor dream that the ideal lover will ever materialise) underpinning everything.

      For me, there’s also something like the atmosphere of a Terence Davies film in the muted, lugubrious, moving and retro-British voices which float ghostlike over Morrissey’s intro (Bowie actually did something similar in Ricochet). But basically yes, it’s the SFX from that Smiths song, remade.

      Bowie’s attempt to see hero-worship in Morrissey narcissism utlimately fails, because Morrissey is, finally, a lot more grandiosely self-obsessed than Bowie has ever been (witness the constant changes of the latter, the smug stasis of the former).

      • twinkle-twinkle says:

        Wow! Is that really you? I doff my cap to both you and gnomemansland – I agree with both of you, if that is possible. I think the problem is, occasionally, Bowie bends songs to suit the overall ‘sound’ or ‘concept’ of an album too much.
        Whereas, if he was doing a song ‘the best way for that song’ it might sound rather different.

        Example – ‘The Pretty Things Are Going To Hell’ , I feel, really needed to be more angular and ‘glammy’, or, as mad as ‘Big Hurt’ on Tin Machine II; it’s too restrained, but it had to be because it has to fit the overall sound of the album.

        And, Happy Birthday, Momus, from a fellow ‘Waterbearer’. I too know Paisley. Hoots!

  27. Rufus Oculus says:

    Spot on gnomemansland. I love both versions for the reasons you give. I saw Bowie and Morrissey in Birmingham in 95. Moz was obviously unhappy and just hugged himself miserably throughout his short set. It’s true his fans buggered off and we unbelievably just walked to the very front of the stage for Bowie. A lot of Bowie “fans” walked out of his set too unhappy with his ”industrial ” playlist and lack of hits.

  28. twinkle-twinkle says:

    Bowie business-like?

    Would Ziggy have been as good if db hadn’t given the rhythm section a talking to before sending them home to rehearse properly?

    There is a time for loose experimentation and a time for professionalism. Would you prefer Bowie to cancel gigs at the merest hint of a petulant queen’s tantrum, a la Mozza and Elton?

    As far as Bowie and money/business and personal life/gossip are concerned, having been ripped off big style in the 70’s and blabbed about by close fiends and wife, I don’t blame db for making sure everything is watertight in every department when he can. It’s his life to control as he likes.

    He owes the world nothing. Bowie didn’t twist our arms or hypnotise us. We bought what he did because it pleased US. Fans drop artists as easy as an Elton or Mozza flounce.

    Talking about Bowie as a business and other artists as supposedly ‘real’ is naive. The ‘Mainman’ tentacled conglomerate is long gone.

    Bowie clearly is still aware of his Warholian status as a brand, a medium, but what about the business built around Joy Division/New Order, Factory Records and the Hacienda club etc, all with an in-house style, from the bar and seating to album covers and graphics? No one ever thought to dismiss the musicians and their music as just ‘a business’.

    Nick Cave. Married with a family, had an office in Soho and kept regular hours writing. His band all wear suits. Does he take shit from anyone? Doe he travel well when on tour? Or, does he just jump in a van and hope everything works out?

    And as for the content of his songs – how many murders has Nick committed? Must be a few if his creative output is anything to go by. Don’t panic, I’m a fan, just making a point.

    Art/artifice or keeping it real. Edges blur.

    I think this comment may not be in the right place due to a computer glitch.

    • s.t. says:

      I fully agree that an artist does not need certain notches on their resume to establish their authenticity, or that said authenticity in any way affects the power of their art. Who cares if it’s affected, as long as it’s affecting?

      What I can’t stand are people who don’t commit to their roles. No, Nick Cave is not a real murderer, but he goes the whole hog in channeling some convincing psychopathies (especially the early Birthday Party stuff…have you heard Junkyard?). Someone like Colin Meloy from the Decemberists fancies himself as a vaudevillian storyteller, singing of sailors, tramps and dirty brothels, but how can I suspend disbelief when it sounds like the most sordid thing he’s done in his life is place books out of order in the library? He doesn’t commit to the role he gives himself, and so I think of him as phony in a way. Not a phony sailor, but a phony storyteller.

      But I digress.

      • twinkle-twinkle says:

        Aaaah! One of my early rants, lol! (Un)happy daze (sic). I totally agree with you. I was just taking a strong contrary view to some of the things I’ve heard targeted at Bowie over the last 40yrs and still keep finding in various places.

        Someone tried to get me into the Decemberists, but they didn’t grab me. I’m a huge Nick Cave fan, got the autographed CD’s etc, etc. I once knew someone from the record company who drove him around in the old days. I know he’s lived. But even without those actual experiences, I still think an artist can create valid believable work. Like Joe Strummer, Nick’s a well educated middle-class lad, but whereas I find Nick ‘artistically authentic’, I always found Strummer a phony poser.

        Should I stay, or should I… release the bats?!?

      • s.t. says:

        Speaking of Nick, here’s footage of him harassing my friend at a recent show in Philadelphia (scroll a bit for the video):

        http://thekey.xpn.org/2013/03/20/dark-crooner-nick-cave-takes-command-of-the-keswick-theater-review-photos-setlist/

        Joe Strummer. I’ve nothing against him, and I quite like a few Clash albums. But I don’t *love* any of their songs, and I never really understood the passionate devotion that they inspire among kids today. Lester Bangs’ essay got me to break out their stuff for a re-evaluation, but the result was the same. I especially find it strange that a lot of Clash fans hate the Beatles (and therefore love that “phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust” line), since the Clash just sound like the Beatles with a lot more whiskey involved. But, to each his own. Misguided passion is better than none at all!

      • twinkle-twinkle says:

        Ha-ha-ha!! Brilliant! Thanks for that clip. Your friend held his ground well, lol.

        I agree that despite the, ‘No Elvis, Beatles or The Rolling Stones’ line, Strummer was a fan. At a Clash gig in London (?) ’77 before they went on, it was announced Elvis had died and a cheer went up. Strummer stormed on alone and berated the crowd for not understanding the sad significance of the death.

        It was only 12 months on from ‘year zero’ and in the UK only Bowie, and to a lesser extent Roxy Music, were allowed to move froward with the new wave.

        Strummer, the privately educated son of a diplomat, tended to over-compensate for his privileged background by making silly pronouncements he would later retract. For me,The Clash’s first album is their best and probably better than the Sex Pistols ‘Bollocks’, but I always found them a bit ‘cartoon’. Still, it all turned out to be just music in the end.

        Seeing early footage of Strummer with the sound off I realised recently who he really wanted to be – Bruce Springsteen. The way he moved and held his guitar, it’s like Springsteen on speed.

        Mick Jones, like Keef, is working-class; it was interesting hearing middle-class Jagger interviewed recently, the way he sounds more and more ‘common’ the older and richer he gets. He now slurs like a down at heel crack-head reduced to glue-sniffing, heh-heh!

        As for the Beatles, they irritated me as a primary school kid in the 60’s and I still find it easy to ignore them, only now I know why. Too many over-stretched cloying jingles from Paul! ‘Hey Jude’, ‘Let It Be’, ‘Yesterday’, aaagh! I don’t own a single album.

        I’ve downloaded a handful of Lennon Beatle songs, but I feel slightly embarrassed if I’m caught playing them, like it’s The Osmonds or something. I preferred the Kinks, Who and Stones, maybe because they stood for something. The whole ‘Beatles thing’ is lost on me, apart from Lennon and GH’s ‘Taxman’ and ‘While My Guitar…’ If it helps, I’ll admit ‘Eleanor Rigby’ is Macca’s best lyric and I enjoy ‘Helter Skelter’.

        It’s not as if they are a really important band, like The Fall – hep-hep-aaah!! Lol!

      • Maj says:

        @ s.t.: I always took the phoney Beatlemania line about the mania itself, the fans who would only scream and faint and a few years later forget about the band. Never took it as the Clash hating the Beatles actual music. But I really have no idea, I don’t listen to them much at all.
        Just an aside.

      • s.t. says:

        Maj, I agree with you, I’m pretty sure Mick and Joe were both fans of the Beatles. Yet I have encountered a fair amount of people who nonetheless interpret it to mean “the Beatles and their hoard of zombies,” contrary to what I think of as obvious audible evidence of a musical influence. Not the fault of the Clash, it’s just that punk culture cultivates its own hoard of zombies…

      • Writers will kill their mothers for a good line, as Randy Newman once said. That’s all that line means.

      • col1234 says:

        what htv said. also, the line isn’t about the Beatles, it’s about the Clash’s “sell out” peers (Generation X? the Knack?). Strummer and Jones loved to talk trash about their rivals: “the new groups are not concerned/with what there is to be learned’ (Hammersmith Palais); “if you’ve been trying for years, we’ve already heard your song” (Death or Glory). the phony Beatlemania line is just part of this.

      • s.t. says:

        Good point, HTV. The line stands out, and sometimes that’s all you might want.

        I never considered it as a dig at contemporary pseudo-phenoms, but that sounds dead on. I think Momus’ comments about rocker-vs-entertainer (on the NIN article) have a lot of merit, but this obsession with authenticity is everywhere, perhaps best encapsulated by the self-cannibalization of the bands within the UK punk scene, everyone trying to get that “True Punk” trophy. And time lends a sense of irony to it all, especially while listening to Big Audio Dynamite.

  29. Q says:

    LOL
    i think DB always have STYLE
    seems like he’d managed business thing since his early career?

    God bless Ronno!
    always feel sorry for his life

  30. Mr Tagomi says:

    I have done a bit of leafing through the Morrissey book and I can find no trace of any reference to the tour debacle.

    Most of his mentions of DB are highly positive, particularly the cover of this song. It seems that Morrissey loved it then and still does.

    There is passage that may or may not imply that DB has lost his mojo. But Morrissey’s prose style is such that it can be difficult at times to be sure what he actually means.

    • Mr Tagomi says:

      Also, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide bit at the end was the work of Mick Ronson, and deliberately so.

      He reassures Morrissey that he wrote the original coda so no one would take him to task for using it again.

  31. I considered myself an accomplished writer … till I read this! Well done.

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