Nature Boy


Nature Boy (Nat King Cole).
Nature Boy (Nat King Cole, live).
Nature Boy (Bowie).
Nature Boy (Bowie and Massive Attack).

When I was young I dreamed of a boy searching for God. Now I am old and dream of God searching for a boy.

eden ahbez, 1977.

One spring night in Los Angeles in 1947, a strange man on a bicycle tried to go backstage at a Nat King Cole concert at the Lincoln Theater. Thwarted, he gave Cole’s manager Mort Ruby a soiled, rolled-up score which Ruby passed on to Cole, noting that it came from a man who, with his shoulder-length hair and tunic, resembled Jesus Christ.

Cole read the score, was taken with the song, began singing it live. As it played well with audiences, Cole wanted to record it but the “eden ahbez” on the score had no known address. After scouring the city, Capitol executives (at least according to PR copy) found ahbez camped underneath one of the “L”s of the Hollywood sign.

As Space Age Pop notes, Cole perceived that beneath the vaguely-mystic parable of the lyric was a catchy Yiddish tune (ahbez was born George Alexander Aberle, a Jew in Brooklyn in 1908). Scrapping ahbez’s waltz meter for a free rubato, allowing Cole to leisurely scale ahbez’s wide intervals (e.g., the octave leap-and-fall of “there WAS a boy”), Cole recorded ahbez’s “Nature Boy” on 22 August 1947. By the following summer it was a #1 pop hit, covered by Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra and parodied by Red Ingle’s Unnatural Seven. Cole made “Nature Boy” a standard and it in turn made him. Thanks to its success (and that of “The Christmas Song,” cut around the same time), Cole was no longer the sharp leader of an adventurous modern jazz trio but a mainstream crooner, a figure too easily written off in jazz histories.1

The Wild Eyed Boy lives on a mountain and has developed a beautiful way of life. He loves the mountain and the mountain loves him. I suppose in a way he’s rather a prophet figure.

David Bowie, on “Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud,” 1969.

“Nature Boy” made ahbez as well, got him written up in Life, Time and Newsweek. Cast by reporters as the embodiment of his song, ahbez was the first postwar media hippie, a transition figure between Wandervogel nature cults and the gestating counterculture (in the Sixties, ahbez would hang out with Donovan, have his songs recorded by Grace Slick and attend Beach Boys Smile sessions). He was one of a group of bohemians (“Gypsy Boots” was another) living around LA at the time, promoting vegetarianism, health food and outdoor living and basically drafting modern California. Ahbez’s look, his “Eastern” philosophies and his live-off-the-land-or-someone’s-couch ethos were a primer for at least one generation (some say R. Crumb’s “Mr. Natural” was partially based on him).

After selling a few more songs to Cole, ahbez (he said only God was entitled to capital letters) recorded his first album in 1960: Eden’s Island, the sort of beatnik exotica that the young David Jones of Bromley treasured (see another of Bowie’s teenage favorites, Ken Nordine’s Word Jazz albums). Ahbez’s East Coast counterpart was Moondog, a jazz composer who dressed up as a Viking warrior and stood on the street in midtown Manhattan (Bowie was delighted to see Moondog upon first visiting New York in 1971). But though ahbez and Gypsy Boots and Moondog were reduced to jokes, cast as court jesters for the space age, their mere appearance on a TV talk show or in some Time feature, or even just the slow, questing melody of “Nature Boy” on yet another recording of it, was a rebuke for a culture consumed with death, sex and merchandising. You don’t have to live like you think you have to.

Ahbez lived in LA for the rest of his life, watched it become the world he’d offered in the Forties, watched that world fade away in turn. He spent his last years preparing a final statement, a book and an album, both of which he never finished. He died at the age of 86 in 1995, reportedly after being struck by a car [turns out it was just a car accident—see comments].


Like most songwriters worth their salt, ahbez had a magpie’s ear. For “Nature Boy,” he took his melody from Dvořák’s Piano Quintet No. 2 and probably from “Shvayg Mayn Harts,” a Yiddish pop song from 1935. The latter’s composer, Herman Yablokoff, sued ahbez, who called to protest, saying the melody had come to him while he was up in the California mountains, “as if angels were singing it,” to which Yablokoff replied that if angels had been singing it, “they must have bought a copy of my song.” (They settled out of court.)

“Nature Boy” had no refrains, just two 16-bar verses, with only slight harmonic and melodic differences between the latter. Its D minor progression offered a chromatic descending bassline for the boy’s roaming over land and sea in the middle bars and feinted at a shift to A major at the end of each verse. Despite its legendary first appearance on a soiled piece of parchment (as though ahbez had written “Nature Boy” up on a mountain like some Epistle to the Californians), the song showed evidence of more painstaking craft, of ahbez spending nights at a piano to assemble the song: take how most of its phrases are pegged to the notes of each underlying triad (“was-a-boy,” “then-one-day” etc. are A-F-D, the notes of the underlying D minor chord (D-F-A) and so on).

What Cole and later interpreters like John Coltrane and Bowie found was that the song, already rhythmically free, allowed freedom of movement on other fronts: you could twist and belabor the vocal melody all you’d like, or you could stick to ahbez’s notes over an assault on his chord structures (if you were Coltrane, you did both). For Cole, a hip musician who’d become the voice of Brylcreem America in the Fifties, singing “Nature Boy” was a way of letting his inner hipster self out to play for a few minutes. For Coltrane, who recorded the song twice in 1965, “Nature Boy” served notice that he was done with the earth and was off to annex space.


That’s why we’ve got audiences who clap and cheer at the songs in cinemas. They’re not cheering the projectionist. What they are doing is communing with everyone else in the room and saying, ‘Ha ha ha. I get it, too.”

Baz Luhrmann.

As Bowie was recording Toy in 2000, the Australian director Baz Luhrmann was filming Moulin Rouge, a musical in which Belle Epoque France bohemians sing Elton John, T. Rex and Labelle songs.

Luhrmann, never low in ambition, said he aimed to reinvent the musical and restore it to its former populist role. Take Vincent Minnelli’s 1944 Meet Me in Saint Louis, he said.The film’s set in 1904 but its music is mostly Forties big-band Hollywood. “In an old musical, the audience had a relationship with the music before they went in [the theater],” Luhrmann said. They’d heard the songs in other contexts, in a stage musical or on the radio or in another film. So in Moulin Rouge when Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman fall in love by singing the refrains of a dozen pop songs (“I Will Always Love You,” “Silly Love Songs,” “I Was Made for Loving You,” “Love Is Like Oxygen” etc.) to each other, it’s pop as a common emotional language, the sequence is a love song meant more for the audience than the characters. And the mash-ups of Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge sequences, with “Lady Marmalade,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Offenbach’s “Can Can” overlapping on the soundtrack, predicted the anarchy of a random YouTube playlist.

Luhrmann originally wanted to use Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son” to open his film but Stevens turned him down, citing religious objections. Bowie, who’d already agreed to let Luhrmann use “Heroes” and “Diamond Dogs“, offered to sing “Nature Boy” as a new opener. As it happened, Stevens’ rejection helped Luhrmann clarify his film. “Nature Boy” became Moulin Rouge‘s theme song, its last line a motif for his storyline.

Yet the bohemians of Luhrmann’s film (John Leguizamo as a grotesque caricature of Toulouse-Lautrec, McGregor as a sunnier Frédéric Moreau) were far from the world of eden ahbez. This was bohemia as a visual shorthand—ratty clothes, cold-water flats, tasteful drug use, tasteful sex, noble pure-heart characters set against corrupted squares—and it owed an unacknowledged debt to Jonathan Larson’s Rent (both musicals had used Puccini’s La Boheme for their plot). You could say ahbez’s Life profile in 1948 had begun this, the sense of fashioning a bohemian life from a few magazine features and well-chosen songs. Moulin Rouge suggested any viable counterculture was gone, was now kitsch, was just one color in a catalog, a specialty TV channel. It was play-acting by beautiful people, which perhaps bohemia always was.


Still, there remained “Nature Boy,” odd and unassimilable. Neither of Bowie’s takes on the song were integral to the film (Leguizamo sang “Nature Boy” in the opening; McGregor sang its last line throughout). Bowie’s “orchestral” version was only heard, mixed distantly, in a few shots, while the take that he cut with Massive Attack, slotted for the end credits, was ditched because “Bowie and Massive ended up being so dark [while] we had to resurrect the audience during the credits,” Luhrmann said.

In Bowie’s “orchestral” version of “Nature Boy,” he tinkers with the melody in the expected way, alters a few phrasings, changes a few emphases: he sidesteps the expected rise on “very far,” stresses fools rather than kings. It’s “Nature Boy” as a European art song, Bowie gravely responding to the various scarlet moods of Craig Armstrong’s orchestration. Yet just when the song’s about to tastefully wind down, Bowie gives a pole-vault for a last note: “RETUUUUURRRRN!” It’s a welcome grand dame moment, up there with “Lady Grinning Soul” in Bowie closing grandiosities.

It also was close to ahbez’s intended reworking of his song. Up until his death, ahbez had recorded tracks with the engineer Joe Romersa, including a new version of “Nature Boy” that reflected what he’d taken in over the long haul. “He said to me, ‘Joe, that lyric, ‘To love and be loved in return’… it’s too much of a deal. There’s no deal in love.’ He wanted it to say, The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved, just love and be loved,'” Romersa said in an interview. “The final recording would’ve also altered the melody slightly, with “Nature Boy” rising up in a grand Ben Hur-like cadence that reflects love’s ultimate triumph.” As ahbez’s version has never been released, Bowie’s should suffice.

The Bowie/Massive Attack “Nature Boy,” mainly the work of Robert “3D” Del Naja, starts like a machine waking itself up. A repeating two-note bassline becomes a pulsebeat and a few other characters appear: a three-note phrase on plucked strings, an ebb-and-flow synth figure. Bowie’s set back in the mix. His voice sounds sped up, thinned out, reduced to a texture. He’s a gear in a clock; his phrasings and his melodic choices are minor colors in the mix. His “he passed my way” is now somber, his rise on “many things” is washed out by the roar of a guitar loop. And his last line’s drained of any drama or triumph. It’s just Bowie slowly singing the words as if he’s trying to piece together a memory. It’s enough; the song still shines in the box Del Naja built to house it. In its last seconds comes Kidman’s whispered “I love you.” As ahbez said, just love and be loved.

Recorded (Bowie vocal) ca. February 2001, Looking Glass Studios?, prod. Visconti; (orchestra) ca. late 2000, Sydney, Craig Armstrong: conductor/arranger; (Massive Attack version) (Bowie vocal) February 2001, New York; (music, mixing Del Naja) London. Both versions were released 8 May 2001 on the Moulin Rouge OST (Interscope 06949 3035 2).

Sources: Ted Gioia’s entry on “Nature Boy” in The Jazz Standards; the marvelous blog dedicated to ahbez, “Eden’s Island”; Jack Gottlieb’s Funny, It Doesn’t Sound Jewish; Life, 10 May 1948; Harvey Kubernik’s interview with Luhrmann (collected in Hollywood Shack Job); Brian Chidester, “Eden Ahbez: The Hippie Forefather’s Final Statement to the World,” LA Weekly, 18 February 2014.

1: That said, Cole made the occasional great jazz record well into his mainstream days (see “I Know That You Know,” with Stuff Smith, from 1957).

Other recommended naturals: Etta Jones (1963), James Brown (1965), Peggy Lee (1948), Miles Davis (1955 w/Mingus, Teddy Charles, Elvin Jones), Big Star (1975), Milt Jackson Big 4 (1975), George Benson (1977), Kurt Elling (1996).

Top: The new vice president and his wife take a spin, 20 January 2001; ahbez and Sinatra, ahbez and Cole (both 1948); McGregor and Kidman, Moulin Rouge (Luhrmann, 2001).

61 Responses to Nature Boy

  1. fantailfan says:

    At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, like Can’t Buy Me Love and San Francisco Nights: The Psychedelic Music Trip, this blog is more than just a musical biography of David Bowie. It just gets better and better. As you move from the past towards the present, you’ve somehow made me interested in reading every entry, even the songs I have never heard (or liked), and including the comments and the tumblr blog! The only place it sags is the eighties, but then Bowie sagged a bit during the eighties too. (I know you really tried, but the material was pretty thin to begin with.) So, the “spirit” of the blog – its tone, timbre, cadence and expression – reflects its subject.

    As a former American hstory grad student, I prefer the personal/sociological/historical approach to biography. I’m uncomfortable with biographies that focus so much on their subject that they willy nilly end up becoming hagiography (William Manchester on Winston Churchill and, in music, Jimmy McDonough on Neil Young) or demonology (Robert Caro on Lyndon Johnson and Albert Goldman on anybody).

    MCartneys “Mother Nature’s Son” is a D-A-G-D song, with some minors mixed in. I’m no musicologist, but does one hear a resemblence to “Nature Boy”?

  2. Patrick says:

    Listening (for me possibly for the first time as I didn’t recall it from the film) to the Bowie version with it’s heavy orchestral backing, I can easily imagine that alternative career that he at one point strived for, part children’s entertainer, part musical stage and occasional screen “character” actor. Not necessarily a conventionally great voice but a distinct and original one, the anti-Sinatra of the new generation who chose the sturdy established platform and catalogue of musical theatre against the ephemeral lusts and demands of Pop (in this alternate universe).

  3. Vinnie M says:

    I’ve never heard either of these before! Wow. I unfairly judged previously as a, “song from Moulin Rouge“, and ignored; Rather, soundtracks are good excuses for our beloved artists to do something different (and get paid for it, with a guaranteed wider distribution. The Twilight franchise, for example).

    Lovely, just lovely.

  4. crayontocrayon says:

    That moment when ‘Return’ hits is pure Bond theme. I prefer the massive attack version overall. Love the mechanical sound of it and its restraint. A little like sound and vision in that regard.

    • William Weir says:

      I love the Massive Attack version as well, but then I love pretty much every version I’ve heard of this song. But the Massive Attack version has that intangible “it’s about to explode but never does” feeling about it. Which I love.

  5. postpunkmonk says:

    Knock me over with a feather. I had no Idea Bowie had covered tune. The Cole version was always amazing, so I might have to pluck the “Moulin Rouge” OST from the bins the next time that I see it. I could go broke buying soundtracks for loose tracks by favorite artists…

  6. Damn, this is great. I love the classic drama of Bowie’s version, and the atmospheric machine noises of the Massive Attack mix makes me think of a Bowie/Bjork collaboration that never was.

    …Damn that’s a tantalizing idea.

  7. nice review as always, and decent track although for from a fan of Moulin Rouge *shudder*

  8. Champiness says:

    Yes, but how does it measure up against the Pomplamoose version? 😉

  9. Sky-Possessing Spider says:

    As a big fan of the silver screen I seldom walkout on movies, even giving mediocre ones the benefit of the doubt. Two instances which had me hurrying for the exit within minutes were the one where all the characters were named after Beatles songs (I can’t even remember the name of that turkey), and Moulin Rouge. What an unmitigated pile of steaming crap the latter was. To make it worse, everybody here made a big fuss about it because Baz Luhrmann is an Aussie. I believe they refer to this as “cultural cringe.”

    • StevenE says:

      Across the Universe perhaps? Not seen it, but aware Evan Rachel Wood plays Lucy (in the sky with diiiiamonds) while Bono plays a Dr Robert. Draw from that what you will.

    • Maj says:

      oh honey. you and I can’t be friends. I love Across the Universe (can’t say the same about MR). this is not OK. I’ll pretend I’ve never read this. *swallows a Retcon pill*

      • s.t. says:

        Aw man, Maj. I love the Beatles, but a little part of me died while watching that movie (so I totally feel ya, SPS).

        I’m also not a fan of anything Baz Luhrmann has done, including MR, but this magnificent cover makes it all worthwhile.

      • Sky-Possessing Spider says:

        Sorry Maj. All I can offer is that I love The Beatles. I have all their albums, and a fair bit of their solo stuff too. Across the Universe just seemed so contrived, silly and pointless.

      • I think it would have been improved by the presence of a villain who sings only Rolling Stones songs.

      • Fate Jacket X says:

        #torchwood #pusherjack #sexyfirstseason

      • postpunkmonk says:

        I was a huge fan of “Titus” and was ready to watch anything that Julie Taymor directed… until she made a movie based on Beatle songs!!! You say that Bono was in it? Good thing I avoided it!!

    • audiophd says:

      Well count me as a fan of both MR and the Beatles ‘turkey’. What can I say…guess I’m just that kind of sucker.

    • AB says:

      My sister and I slid down in our seats in the cinema. She whispered to me: “Oh my god, they’ll think overseas that this is what Australian’s think is Sophisticated”. Luhrmann’s a hack.

      ‘Across The Universe?’ Bono arrogantly singing ‘I Am The Walrus’, arrogantly-smug in the knowledge that he’s important enough to singing such a canonised rock song was one of the low points of pop culture for me… at least until Eddie Izzard did whatever he thought he was doing to ‘Mr. Kite’ in the following scene.

  10. Maj says:

    well I was 14 when the film came out. girls my age loved it. I knew these two old ladies who loved it too & went to the cinema repeatedly. I only saw it abt two years later, on TV. I think I prefer Luhrmann’s version of the Great Gatsby to MR, dying singing prostitutes just aren’t my thing in general.
    I do like the concept of the soundtrack Luhrman uses. I only like about half of the tracks on both MR & GG soundtracks but nevertheless I do have them & listen to the songs once in a while.

    anyhoo, Nature Boy. great song, what can you say. Bowie’s orchestral version…pretty good, the Massive Attack version…no, thanks.

    great write-up, Chris! learned something new again! 🙂

  11. BenJ says:

    I’m a little surprised you didn’t mention that Beck recorded a cover of “Diamond Dogs” for the movie.* Did a decent job, I think. I’ve never actually seen the movie, or if I have it was on an airplane where it’s nearly impossible to make sense of inflight pictures, so I don’t know how it fits into the plot.

    *Actually I’m guessing if I go back to the “Diamond Dogs” entry I’ll see it there.

    • col1234 says:

      linked to it in the entry, but no, didn’t mention it. It’s okay. his “sound + vision” take is more interesting

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Duran Duran’s version of “Diamond Dogs” was marginally better than their absolutely dire cover of “Fame.”

  12. Momus says:

    Journal entry on “Design Zen”
    18th May 2001

    It’s a Tuesday evening and I’m listening for the first time to Massive Attack’s remix of David Bowie singing the Nat King Cole classic ‘Nature Boy’. It’s dark and impressive. My Tokyo apartment is dimly lit by LEDs on standby. Through the window I see the Ebisu Gardens Tower looming on the hill beyond the Meguro River.

    ‘Packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love Me Avenue.’

    Moments of my life over the last thirty years link up, moments when I first listened to new Bowie songs.

    ‘I was going round and round the hotel garage.’ Windows appear and dissolve, framing my headphoned reflection with other views: a frozen lake through a Montreal picture window, 1974. The first time I hear the banshee wail that opens Diamond Dogs.

    Mist hanging over Drummond Place Gardens, Edinburgh, 1977. My first listen to Low.

    I flick the CD back a few tracks. It’s Beck and Timbaland covering ‘Diamond Dogs’.

    ‘As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent you asked for the latest party.’

    Japan is more ‘Low’ than ‘Diamond Dogs’. It’s more hermetic formalist detachment than simply divine decadence, darling. David Bowie once said that although he loved Japan, he would never live here because it would make him ‘too Zen to write’. He’d just go off into some meditation or something, or doze off in ‘old Kyoto, sleeping on the matted ground’.

    I think, now I’m living in Japan myself, I’m beginning to get an inkling of what he might have meant. It’s not so much the siren power of Zen which worries me — I was never a Buddhist like Bowie — as the seductive tyranny of another, more recent, secular religion: the worship of Design. […]

    Japan is a society where dilettantism is poised eternally on the edge of dissolution, like the soft drink vending machines balanced on the crater rim at the top of Mount Fuji. It would just take an earthquake, or a little rumble like a recession or a random missile from a rogue state, to plunge the whole nation, with its cutey girls and design fetish boys, into the abyss.

    • s.t. says:

      Tokyo is definitely “Low.” Both sides of the record, played simultaneously. Disorienting, exhilarating, frantic, and depressed.
      And yet your post takes me back to the streets of Ebisu: I used to love going to the Beer Museum there. Très nostalgique…

      These phantasms of the past are comforting, and I think it’s a similar comfort of abstract distraction that keeps the lost souls of Tokyo in check. Satoshi Kon dramatized it beautifully in “Paranoia Agent.”

      In any event, cheers from Montreal, 2014.

  13. gcreptile says:

    Well, I didn’t know about that one…
    I’d also like to add Jon Hassell’s version to the list. Stripped down as much as possible…

  14. Ramzi says:

    You should really give prior NSFW warning if you’re going to put a giant DIck as the main article image.

  15. Momus says:

    Weird, it ends up sounding like a 1978 Simple Minds or Ultravox record, ie a post-Low imitation of Low.

  16. Cyrus Quick says:

    This was the awesome flip side of a Nat Cole record in the library of Cadburys in Bourneville. We on the night shift (I was there 1960 to 1962) would pick our faves for playing over the public address,

    I have adored it ever since. On my 2008 LA vacation, I walked up Mount Lee and stood BEHIND the wire-net-fence and wished I could go down to the two L’s and sing that super song out loud.

  17. Reblogged this on jmorrisseyrosiphillips's Blog and commented:
    Heavy hitters in history.

  18. Geraldine says:

    I LOVE the song Nature Boy, especially sung by Nat King Cole. I actually pitched the idea for a movie about this songwriter’s life to a production company many years ago, never heard anything in reply though. I still think it would make a fab movie.

    Glad I clicked on Freshly Pressed today. 🙂

  19. Geraldine says:

    Reblogged this on My Poetic Path and commented:
    ***The story of how the song: Nature Boy, came to be a number 1 hit and the life of the man who wrote it, is one interesting tale. I was so glad I noted this on Freshly Pressed today. See my comment below too. ***

  20. bringreaner says:

    This is really interesting. I’ve always felt attracted to this song, but I never knew its history.

    The lyrics are so beautiful. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  21. Bruised Passivity says:

    While I have loved the Nat King Cole version I didn’t know about the song’s origins, great research as usual Chris!

    I like the grandiosity of the orchestral version and how David blows the roof off vocally. I try to like the Massive Attack version but David’s vocals are set just to far back in the mix for me to be able to actually enjoy it. What I would love to hear someday is an isolated vocal track version of the MA rendition so I can better enjoy the subtly of David’s performance on this one. I like Beck’s reworking of Diamond Dogs for this soundtrack as well but I agree that his take on Sound & Vision is far more successful.

    By the way, I’ve managed to save enough pennies to afford a trip to Seattle for the EMP Pop Conference. I plan to be an face an anonymous face in the crowd at your Liza Jane talk. I figure it’s as good an excuse as any for a weekend in Seattle, right? 🙂

  22. William Weir says:

    Fantastic read! I hardly knew anything about Eden Ahbez before. Right. I’m going digging for all the versions of Nature Boy now.

  23. William says:

    Such a lovely song, i heard it few times.

  24. ShadesofNorth says:

    Reblogged this on Shades of the North and commented:
    “Nature Boy”…a very musical journey indeed…

  25. alfredsalmanac says:

    This is a great story. Absolutely fascinating and well written. Really enjoyed reading it. I am a massive Bowie fan. Look forward to reading more.

  26. boardingschoolkid says:

    I named my dog Ziggy after Ziggy stardust…<3

  27. Carafa says:

    OMFG when is DB gonna release new music again!!! Is he gonna wait another 10 years, or even 5 years? He hasn’t released a ******* thing since Jan’ 2013. You guys gotta understand I JUST became a Bowie fan 3 years ago and didn’t have to live with image for decades like you guys. I WANT NEW MATERIAL DAMNIT:

    • StevenE says:

      The Informer, Like a Rocket Man, Born In a UFO, Atomica

    • s.t. says:

      Haha, I never thought I’d see such a comment so soon, considering that, yes, we had to wait 10 years for this last batch of new stuff. Me, I’m still kind of reeling from that epic event.

      Ever since the 80’s, it’s been rare for Bowie to release albums in consecutive years. 2-3 years seems to be the norm. Reality was a notable exception, coming as it did from leftover Heathen material.

      Now, Tony Visconti did mention that there was a bunch of unused songs and another album is likely, so that sounds promising. But was he talking about the songs that were eventually released as bonus tracks on the deluxe Next Day? It’s hard to say. From the Visconti interviews, it sounds like Bowie is dedicated to making new music, and that new stuff will come eventually, but it may be longer than a year or two.

      But having only been exposed to his music for three years, surely there’s still plenty to soak up, no? It took me quite a while just to get versed in the masterpieces, let alone find the charm in albums like his Deram debut and Buddha of Suburbia. There’s close to 500 songs in his oeuvre; kick back and enjoy!

    • Vinnie M says:

      I agree; allowing time to absorb Bowie is worth noting, and taking huge breaks/coming back again should be required.

      For years I didn’t understand why Station to Station was considered so great, until it properly *hit* me, and I never listened to Transformer, or The Idiot with the appreciation that they’re Bowie-albums (in a sense) until reading this blog.

      Agree with s.t. too about Buddha of Suburbia – if something isn’t good to your ear, ignore it for a long time and listen to it only when you want to. 500+ songs, remixes, bootlegs – there’s really too much to absorb.

      And, the man deserves some quiet, no?

      Iggy Pop/Bowie in Detroit (1977) is fantastic, if you really need something else:

      OR, obsess over Scott Walker’s Nite Flights material for a few months.

  28. bcxists says:

    Very nice piece, though Eden was not struck by a car right before he died. He was driving in his own vehicle. Regular old car accident. I’m sure it sounds more romantic to have this nomadic figure walking down the highway and getting tragically mowed down by the stampede of modern life, which is why the legend gets perpetuated. But it’s flat untrue.

%d bloggers like this: