State of Play


A few people of late have asked me (on Twitter, Facebook, name your social media) about what’s going on with this site. No updates in two months!

Here’s the thing: I’m behind in writing my book, which is due this year to Repeater Books. In part because after Bowie died, I pretty much couldn’t write anything of value for half a year. I lost that time, and, you know, I don’t regret it (I listened to a lot of Bob Dylan). Something of the same was true for Nicholas Pegg, and I imagine for other writers on DB. It was just tough to do anything productive then.

But I am behind. And, to be honest, this blog doesn’t pay any bills. Books do, in a very roundabout and not-particularly-lucrative way. My day jobs do.

The priority for 2017 is therefore: finish the book as quickly as I can, and work when I need to, which is very often. The blog is, sadly, a secondary business at this point. I need to write the last Blackstar entries, to air them out before I finish the book—that is the impetus to get them done. But otherwise, the blog cannot be a priority. I hope you understand.

The next entry should hopefully be done this month. Or it won’t. Take it as it comes. And thank you for your support.

51 Responses to State of Play

  1. richardjoly says:

    It’s all good. I appreciate your work.

  2. Wayne Berry says:

    We understand – sometimes i STILL find myself crying when i think of Bowie being gone.( Life Lesson, here, btw. i will NEVER AGAIN judge someone for crying about the death of a celebrity. i remember thinking, “oh, look at all these stupid Brits crying crocodile tears… ” when DI died. How unkind and insensitive of me!)

  3. Rom999 says:

    Me too … I appreciate it whenever it comes.

  4. BenJ says:

    This is pretty much as I figured. I’m not worried about the Blackstar entries not being done, because you need them for the book, which means we’ll see them eventually. In the meantime the old entries are rich enough to be reread numerous times and still turn up new angles.

    Two questions:

    1) Do you plan entries on the Lazarus/No Plan songs?

    2) Is there still a Talking Heads project in the works? Sounded interesting.

  5. djmac says:

    No worries Chris. Do what you need to. Yours is a massive undertaking and it’s appreciated greatly. Thank you!

  6. Bruised Passivity says:

    Frankly I’m enjoying the wait for both the book and the last of the blog entries since there will be a limited amount of Bowie related things to look forward to in the future. Glad to read that you’ve got your writing mojo back.

  7. Rini6 says:

    I understand. Losing him felt personal, which is embarrassing because we never met. I still don’t understand how someone could so fully express emotions that I didn’t know I had.

    Yet, his death was also a reminder and a motivator. No one knows how much time they have left. No one knows how much time the earth has left. Recent political events have left me listening to Five Years again.

    I have decided that there is no time for meek self deprecation or shyness. Musical expression is on my heart. I am an old lady of fifty one and I’m gonna use my talent. I have spent my life in medicine. And being a physician has been wonderful in the sense that it I get to truly help people. However my heart has always been with music and I going to friggin follow it wherever it leads my. I am taking piano refresher lessons with Mike Garson over skype and he has been so wonderful. So I am moving forward. Bowie always inspires.

  8. Lux says:

    I saw the Mick Rock doc Shot! today. Lots of fab rare Bowie (and cohorts) stuff to muse over. If we’re missing him so much imagine the people who knew and worked with him. Take your time, we understand. And Dylan is a great idea. Todd Haynes rediscovered him playing tapes on a cross country drive and ended up making a movie. Thank you and take care.

  9. You seriously can not feel bad about not keeping this going at the same pace, we all needed the medicine you have been giving us at the time but we also need to get back to some sort of normality if there actually is such a thing now, given the whole world situation and the lack of pure undiluted new Bowie as an antidote.

    So, thank you, for all you have done in these trying times.

  10. Pollyanna S says:

    100% understandable! Do what you need to do. David’s work will always be there. It’s taken us all a long time to come to terms with his loss so how could anyone possibly expect you to write much? If there’s one good thing that came from his death,it’s that the Bowie community has got closer. We will all be here – whenever you’re ready. Xx

  11. MikeB says:

    I love your writing and insights so much, so of course I can’t wait for the next entry to appear… but, my God, even without your other priorities, these next songs have to be monsters to write about. “Blackstar” and “Girl Loves Me” and “I Can’t Give…” There’s a lot to unpack!

  12. lauraperlin says:

    Chris, I am deeply grateful for your work and would continue to be deeply grateful even if you never wrote another word about db. You have enriched my life and cradled my grieving process. As exciting as new posts are, I have no longing for the day when you are done, and there are no new Bowie songs, ever.

  13. Brbr b says:

    It’s always a pleasure when the blogs land as Blur put it in their db tribute/homage…..strange news from another star.
    Get the book done though its more worthwhile having the strange news in one place.

  14. leonoutside says:

    Understood Chris. And all the best. I really get a lot out of your writing. Hey, you’re closer to the golden goal. If you’re at Blackstar then Second Avenues is just out of view. Over The Wall You Go..Really looking forward to the result of your labours. With a U, Yankee.

  15. marta says:

    Chris, I second other commenters’ words. I am so grateful for your love and respect for DB on this blog. I can’t imagine you reaching it’s end. So I’ll keep coming here daily, if just to make sure we’re not there yet.

    When I discovered the blog, in Jan 2016, I started reading in the discography’s chronological order. I read through all the entries up to, and including, Hunky Dory. Then life got in the way and I interrupted that endeavour. It feels good there’s still so much to go.

    The book, which I bought online but was delivered too late for my brother to bring it home for Xmas from your side of the Atlantic, will be read during the summer, when he travels here again, and when you’ll already have published the new one. This time I’ll know better and have that one delivered way before Xmas… πŸ™‚

    I am a freelancer as well so I do appreciate – immensely – your labour on the blog. So, a deeply felt thank you for all the joy and comfort you’ve been bringing us all.

  16. When you ran the poll for the best Bowie songs, that was for me – one of the best things ever. To see a poll by Bowie fans only, and see how certain ‘out there’ songs loved so much by me were equally loved by other fans was one of the highlights of my 34 year Bowie obsession. I have the Top 100 as a play list on my ipod (as well as the rest of course!) and those songs all hold that little extra feel now – even some I didn’t really hold in great esteem have had a few more listens and I’ve found a bunch more favourites. So for me, that was everything – anything else you do is just a wonderful bonus. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  17. Christopher Williams says:

    I have used the barren times to delve back into “Rebel Rebel” and Nicholas Pegg’s last edition, often comparing the two – he hasn’t changed the “Lady Stardust” entry. His final comments brought a lump to my throat. It is essential reading, as is Kevin Cann’s “Any Day Now” which clearly shows how Bowie evolved and where the 60s stuff fits the big picture. I hope the new book will have large enough print for us old folks. Will it pick up where “Rebel Rebel” left off? Speaking of which I spotted a couple more typos, which are old news I hope – Steve Harvey for Steve Harley and a “tinned” for “turned” in the “Ziggy Stardust” entry. Looking forward to the book and the continuation of the blog, best wishes, Chris

    • col1234 says:

      poor Steve Harley is indeed a typo but “tinned” was intended–it’s “to tin,” a verb and perhaps too oblique a pun

  18. Filip Vandenhende says:

    No problem, Chris (feels Odd calling you Chris, as I don’t know you. But hey…)

    People who are still read hungry should check out the comments on this blog.
    Lot’s of them are definitely worth reading!

  19. Joe The Lion says:

    My first thought when I saw the title was “Is this another deep cut I hadn’t heard of before Chris wrote it up?” Then I actually read State of Play.

    And fair play, sir – looking forward to the next book, looking forward to the next post, and it’s worth waiting for. Thanks again for it all.

  20. Vinnie says:

    I can’t imagine undertaking a labor of love like this while having a full-time life outside of it. Keep it up, keep it going, take breaks when you can. I’ve said it before and I will say it again – thank you for the words.

  21. We’ll be ready when you are Chris and we will be hugely grateful to read the blogs whenever they appear. Sadly there’s now a finite number of songs left for your review. I didn’t actually have you down as a total Bowie fanatic – I think this blog works so well because you have a certain objectivity. But I think everybody reading this would understand how heartbreaking it was when Bowie died.

    I’m expecting the Talking Heads/architecture (?) blog to be a bit less specifically about songs and recordings – but am still looking forward to it immensely. No pressure πŸ™‚

  22. iain says:

    Thanks for the update, and of course all of your work on this blog! It really did wonders to revisit these entries after the shock of David’s departure…

  23. Home says:

    You take all the time you need. Hopefully you know by now how much this is valued by the readers – so whenever you’re ready to post again thats fine by us

  24. Stolen Guitar says:

    Good luck with the balancing act that is the life of a freelancer! You’ve shamed me into getting my act together…and I’m only talking about updating my LinkedIn profile!

    There’s a heightened sense of expectation now for the final entries; Lazarus and I Can’t Give Everything Away are the ones that I’m particularly looking forward to, but it’s mingled with a dread that it’s all coming to an (inevitable) end.

    Whenever it comes, we’ll be here, Chris.

    Thanks, yet again, for insights, meanings and colours that I’d never have seen if it hadn’t have been for you and the Dame.

  25. StupidintheStreet says:

    I echo everything said above. Your words are worth waiting for. We’ll still be here.

  26. col1234 says:

    thanks, everyone. Just to emphasize: i don’t mean to come off as “woe is me with my workload”—i had found that a number of people didn’t know I was doing another book, and wanted to explain why the blog has been dormant this year.

  27. Rob Thomas says:

    Hi Chris, the pause in the blog gives me time to go back, time and again, to your book, so all good. Btw, I’ve been teaching The History of Rock n Pop at my boy’s junior school. An hour a week, theme by theme (Noise, Good Love, Bad Love, Rebellion, Fantasy…), which allows me to avoid dull linearity and talk about Kiss, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Kraftwerk in the same lesson. We’re all having a blast.

  28. s.t. says:

    Great to hear from you, Chris! I hope the friendly inquiries about the blog haven’t turned into entitled demands for a brisker pace. George R.R. Martin is not our bitch, and neither are you.

    Hope all is well, and I can’t wait for the second book! I still cannot fathom how it will be possible to cram all of that material into one final volume, but if you can do it I’m not complaining!

  29. Simon Dale says:

    Of course you must finish your book. This blog Is a tremendous piece of work and thankyou for all the thought and effort you have put into it for no financial reward. I look forward to the book.

  30. Jan says:

    Completely understand and identify with what you’re saying here Chris. All in good time and best wishes with everything
    you’re doing.

  31. Dave D says:

    You take the time you need to do what you need in the best way possible Chris. Loving your blog, and loving the book too. Kee on keeping on dude.

  32. Chris, your writing is always worth the wait. Looking forward to the remaining entries, and the book as well. Cheers!

  33. Anonymous says:

    You’ve created the most remarkable and scholarly research blog on our great DB I have ever seen. It’s a beautiful solace to have this community to embrace when the pain of David’s loss still resonates so deeply in so many of us here. I’ve re-read many entries and continue to discover new insights and new understandings. It’s simultaneously thrilling and gut-wrenching to discover another piece of the eternal puzzle that is Bowie. The sadness still comes in waves of emotion for me. When I lament that his voice has been stilled, I also come to the realization that, like Lazarus, your blog brings him fully to life once again and for the ages. For that, I thank you Chris.
    I will wait with great anticipation for the resumption of your entries. In the meantime I will continue to re-read and comment on the earlier entries because with Bowie there is always something new and insightful to learn.

    • Eileen Ceccucci says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with everything Anonymous said here. I refer to this blog almost daily as I listen to DB on a daily basis and this is my go-to source for song analysis. I look forward to the final chapter and know you will treat it with all the love and respect it deserves. I miss David and will forever as we all will.

  34. Ramona says:

    Forgot to attach my name to the above. I’m Ramona.

  35. Jonesing says:

    Chris, I just saw this post. It was a great relief to hear from you.

    Not knowing you, and having become slavishly dependent on your outrageously intelligent and beautiful writing since Mr. Jones died, and not seeing any new posts from you in a couple of months…

    …well, I had begun to fear the worst: that we’d lost you as well.

    That would have been unbearable.

    So, finally, a reason to celebrate: Chris O’Leary is still alive, and still writing.

  36. Echoing so many of the above. Thank you Chris.

  37. President Joan says:

    Thanks for the update, Chris! Take your time; we are in no rush to end this journey.

    (And perhaps this means we will get another Christmas card, eh? … πŸ˜‰

  38. princeasbo says:

    Thank you for letting us know what’s up. Bright side: your slow-down helps readers avoid a ‘box set binge’ and spread the pleasure out over a longer period of time.

  39. Waki says:

    thanks Chris, always, and always nice to hear from you, you have been a buddy on the journey. Now I regularly dream of Bowie these days, very sweet unexpected dreams with visuals which I try to turn into visual art in the following days. It’s nice to feel and know he is still so alive in all of us.

  40. andy says:

    Naturally I join all the voices of heartfelt support, saying don’t worry, take your time. But your silence is so very sad, Chris; and saying this is the only way I can express my admiration for your indispensable commentaries. Now months go by pulling us hopelessly into the future.

  41. James Alexander says:

    All of these articles are absolutely brilliant – often poignant and full of expression beyond just Bowie territory. I wanted to post in your article ‘I Keep Forgettin’ ‘, but posts are discontinued there – all I wanted to add was that Bowie’s idea for the song relates to the post you did on ‘America’ and 1-2-3 (who were friends of David at the Marquee club in London in 1967). ‘I keep forgettin’ was, like ‘America’, a 1-2-3 song featured in the set at the Marquee, and one that David particularly liked.

    Thank you for the great work you are doing.

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