Let There Be a Book


Hello! Happy summer. A brief update (I didn’t realize the last blog post was in April!)

Ashes To Ashes, the second and final book of my Bowie song-by-song criticism, is now done. Well, pretty much. There’s still a last, hard round of editing to come, then proofing, and likely some last-minute alterations in the autumn. But the work is finished. It’s strange to say that after all these years. All the Bowie songs are done.

Yes, yes: “but what about ‘Blaze’ or the 35 outtakes they’re going to release as soon as this publishes?” All power to them! I hope that they release tons of great Bowie music. But I consider this book my final word on the subject. Sure, many years down the road, if there have been substantial releases of currently-unheard music that would make me reconsider ideas or correct assertions, maybe I’d do a revision. And if they put out “Ernie Johnson” or “Black Hole Kids” or something, I’ll put an entry up on this blog to let people talk about it.

Two things about Ashes To Ashes:

  •  It’s publishing in early 2019, most likely in February. The date isn’t quite set yet, due to some variable factors. I’ll keep you updated.
  • It covers everything from “Sister Midnight” to “Blackstar.” It’ll be a big book.

Two things about the blog’s future:

  • There are five songs that I’ve written about for the book that I haven’t done as blog entries. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I’ll likely put up one or two later this year, but you’re going to have to get the book to read some of them. Sorry. To quote the man, I can’t give everything away.
  • I’ve revised everything, sometimes radically, in the book. But the blog entries will remain as is, so don’t worry if you’re a fan of those versions. And the site will always be here. I’ll try to keep links up to date if I can, but that’s an endless, very tedious task. Given that the great majority of Bowie songs are on streaming services, the need for YouTube links isn’t as much a necessity for most entries anymore.

Thanks for your support over the years, and I hope you’ll enjoy the book. If you liked Rebel Rebel, you probably will. Talk soon.

72 Responses to Let There Be a Book

  1. Gareth Power says:

    Congratulations. A colossal, landmark achievement.

  2. Deanna says:

    Extremely impressive commitment! I can’t wait to read it. I imagine such a colossal project changes you a bit as a person.

  3. Great news, I´ll get mine surely! Thanks for the great effort!!

  4. V2David says:

    Just wanted to thank you for everything. Your work is THE definite guide for Bowie’s songs. It is simply awesome.

  5. Angus Durer says:

    Congratulations Chris and thank you for all your work over the years. Can’t wait for the book. Your writing has opened so many strange doors & hugely enhanced & enriched my experience of Bowie.

  6. Thanks Chris, for this amazing blog- PAOTD has been a staple of my Bowie group, members always enjoyed a new entry, we will miss that ! Good luck with the book, I’m sure it will fly off the shelves!

  7. Vinnie says:

    An achievement in the annals in music writing and research.

    Cheers, Chris. Look forward to the book.
    Onward and upward,

  8. Thank you
    I look forward to your book. Many thanks, I sincerely hope to read it in paper back. So much appreciated. Yours Jan. Onward and upward. love JG

  9. TisAPity says:

    You have done a great service. Thank you. Look forward to your book.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for all your hard work. Looking forward to the book!

  11. Eduardo Villanueva Mansilla says:

    Thanks for all. Really beautiful work. Looking forward to buying your new book.

  12. Simon Dale says:

    Can’t wait. Enjoyed the last one hugely. Fantastic achievement.

  13. Ramzi says:

    Congratulations, Chris!

  14. suzyq1973 says:

    Can’t wait to see it in print and add this definitely final piece to my Bowie book collection. Congratulations on your achievement!

  15. Mikael says:

    Any chance of a bundle offer for those of us who never got the first one ;)?

  16. Jaap Pekelaer says:

    fantastic news, really looking forward for your new book

  17. Rob Thomas says:

    Congrat’s Chris. Your work has, to my mind, become an essential part of being into Bowie. That is a hell of an achievement. All best, Rob

  18. Kevin Roberts says:

    Thank you for all the time and work.you have dug deep.

  19. Michal Rosa says:

    What about the new version of NLMD? 🙂

    • col1234 says:

      what about it? there are no new songs on it. if i hear it in time i’ll throw in a few lines about the reworking if I find it interesting. but again, this book is the end. There will be plenty more releases to come which I won’t cover.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Congrats, the BEST Bowie book out there is Rebel Rebel so looking forward to Ashes.

  21. valentina says:

    Ashes to Ashes is the perfect accomplishment of a truly magnificent journey.
    The discovery of the Author of PAOTD ranks very high in the list of the debts of gratitude I feel I owe to the man.
    Thank you Chris. I can’t wait to read the book and see what your next project will be!

  22. Gordon Smith says:

    Looking forward to it. Thanks for everything, Chris.

  23. Bart Peeters says:

    I’m anxiously looking forward to the book!
    Great job, Chris, very impressive.

  24. James LaBove says:

    Congratulations, Chris! I’m sure this is a weight off your shoulders – I can’t even begin to imagine what a massive undertaking something like this could be. I helped my father typeset and publish a book of modest scope through Amazon CreateSpace, and it cost us both of us a chunk of our souls. And that’s a far cry from working with an actual publisher and doing gobs of research, etc., I realize – but all the same, enough of a taste of that world for me.

    Totally understand about this being (and needing to be) a stopping point – I’ll be happy to take what I can get when Ashes to Ashes is released! And if we do ever get new/unreleased Bowie music in the future – well, at least we’ll have more Bowie tunes to enjoy. I’ll live with that!

  25. Zoé Kassis says:

    This will be a great read I’m sure. Congratulations! 🏹🍾

  26. Used to be a good blog, now it’s just about you and your books.

    • col1234 says:

      cry me a river

      • Faulkner says:

        Well, dude’s not wrong. Love this blog and have a deep admiration for Chris’s work but this blog really has gone to the shits. A minor post or two about the remasters and Visconti remixes would have gone a long way. Could have handed the blog over to someone else for a short time while you finished the book. Just saying. You’re still a wonderful person.

      • s.t. says:

        An oft thankless task, these labors of love. So let me say thank you once again, Chris, for the tremendous time and effort you put into this mammoth-yet-clearly-not-endless project on Bowie’s life and work.

        I can’t wait for the book, and for your newest (hopefully not thankless) blog project! 🙂

    • Also there used to be way fewer assholes commenting.

      • Christopher williams says:

        “Used to be a good blog” ha! it’s great. I’ve had to force myself not to keep reading the blog so that I can enjoy all of the book, I wish the comments could be in the book as well. I still dip into “Rebel Rebel” daily!! This work (blog and books) has been a major part of my imaginative/indulgent life since I first discovered it all those years ago. Thank you Chris.

      • Faulkner says:

        Not really. I miss Momus’s posts, though. Those were always enlightening and full of obscure insight, two things lacking in all of my posts.

      • BenJ says:

        I miss Momus too. Keep hoping to see him sign off on the newer entries.

  27. Matthew says:

    Thanks for everything, looking forward to next project.

  28. Bruised Passivity says:

    The sincerest of congratulations Chris what tremendous achievement. I hope to be amoung th first to purchase the book when it becomes available. Best wishes in all you future endeavors and I hope you get to relax a little this summer. 🙂

  29. Elijah says:

    Congrats Chris. I’ve liked and admired his work since 1971, and you have done a brill job in illuminating some of the motifs and drivers behind the songs. It would be interesting to have you write more about some of the professional relationships and encounters – Pete Townends/Luther Vandross etc and his dislikes eg Country Music lol

  30. sw says:

    I still read this blog every day at work, hitting an album link sometimes somewhat randomly, sometimes with more specific aims, to find a song and read about it–it’s on my daily to-do list (“-Bowie”, pushing ahead of the dame, listen to and read about a song, check), so thanks for everything. Congratulations on the book, can’t wait to get it–and I hate to say it, but you ending this blog (more or less) means that Bowie is really gone now.

  31. KB says:

    Hi Chris, Thanks for all your years of work and commitment…………… and good luck with the book !

  32. Anonymous says:

    Cheers Chris. I’m looking forward to your second showing. Nice one. Love on ya. Gary xx

  33. Waki says:

    Congratulations and all the best for the last rounds!
    Your blog has helped me dive deeper into Bowie after a 25 years gap not listening to him anymore, and since then with your help he has become a figure in my night dreams, a elusive but enriching archetype I meet again and again now and then. Some dreams are curiously hot (lucky me!), some are intriguing but overall this is a great gift of further beauty and depth in my life, continuing from the gift it was to listening to him as a kid and young adult then.
    Thank you.

  34. Ann K says:

    Good for you Chris! I still have so many entries on the blog to read for the first time, and I go back to many of them for new insights. I’m sad that there will be no more new entries here, but excited for your accomplishments with the second book, and eager to read it. You’ve done right by Our Man, and all of us who are fans. Thanks for everything!

  35. Pam K says:

    You helped assuage my grief even as you sent me down the endless, fascinating rabbit-hole of Bowieana. We all owe you a debt that can’t be repaid. Except that yes, I bought your first book and will be front and center for the second. Thank you

  36. danmac says:

    Congratulations Chris – really looking forward to it. Thanks for all the great work

  37. Noggin says:

    Cool bananas!

    Much respect.


  38. Chris – that’s great news. Huge thanks to you for all your efforts – Bowiephiles everywhere owe you a boundless debt. It’s a monumental body of work, one you can be very proud of – stacked with wide erudition, arcane Bowie knowledge and first rate trivia, not mention the sheer quality of the writing. It’s been a pleasure – can’t wait for the new book. Love on ya, Pete

  39. Sam says:

    https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/jul/23/david-bowies-first-demo-track-discovered-in-old-bread-basket – For what it’s worth, they’ve just found The Konrad’s “I Never Dreamed”…

  40. Tyrell says:

    Chris, no way you can finish yet. 🙂 🙂

    Joking aside, congratulations to your work. You’ve become in a couple of years one of the most important contributor and author of Bowie’s oeuvre. Your work will be a reference for future Bowie research and for future Bowie fans.
    A great achievement.
    And thank you.

  41. s.t. says:

    Fantastic news! Hats off to an incredible achievement. I hope you’re enjoying a (hoppy but not insanely hoppy) beer and taking a rest from it all for a bit.

    I don’t remember: when did you think of the title of Book 2? I know you’ve had it named for some time, but don’t remember if it had been chosen before or after Mr. Bowie’s passing. Obviously, it scores high on poignancy.

    I can’t wait to get a copy.


    • col1234 says:

      title was chosen in 2014. given that it was going to be a song name, as in Rebel Rebel, it was the obvious choice

  42. fhgaldino says:

    I’m looking forward to it so much! We never could thank you enough for all the effort you put into this blog and those books! Thank you so much, Chris! I’m so excited with the idea of reading entries like the Leon ones on the book!

    I’m so curious to know what entries were radically changed the most! Could you tell us some of the entries we can expect to be a lot different on the book? I will understand if you prefer not reveal this.

    • col1234 says:

      the biggest change is the Outside stuff–the segues are incorporated into the Leon posts and some other things. the Scott Walker pieces had to get trimmed–the Motel in particular (way too rambling). Next Day Extra songs better incorporated into that chapter. various people like Iggy, Eno, Gabrels getting “intro” sections. stuff like that.

  43. Prince Asbo says:

    Without wishing to get all scatalogical, my copy of ‘Rebel, Rebel’ lives in our upstairs toilet bookcase. It gets a regular reading and I’m always finding out new information. Will be happy to place ‘Ashes To Ashes’ right next to it!

  44. Cat Gareth says:

    Hello, Chris. This is probably my last as well as my first comment. I’ve been embarrassed to disclose that I’m one of those people who did not appreciate – or even know – the breadth and depth of Bowie’s music until after his death. The radio station I listened to at the time played a week of nothing but Bowie in memoriam. I was stunned. Down the rabbit hole I went and your blog (and book) were indispensable guides to his life, his music, his influences and his creative processes. You also answered many of the “what is Bowie going on about now?” questions I had. After several albums bought because of what you wrote about them, countless hours of listening while on my treadmill (I find I have to move when listening to Bowie), a trip to see David Bowie Is in Brooklyn and two and a half years of absorption in all things Bowie, I’ve shed my inferiority complex about coming so late to the party. Actually, I’ve come to think of it as a plus because I was introduced to the arc of his life and creative output as a whole and have traveled between his late and early work, following threads from both ends (and backing my way toward the dreaded eighties from both directions). My only but crushing regret about arriving late is having missed every opportunity to see the man live. I find his voice and performance so essential to his songs that I don’t look forward to other singers covering them, but I do often try to imagine instrumental versions of his songs and which instrument – or more likely instruments – would come closest to producing the tone and quality of his voice in each song. Anyway, I hope there are surprises still to come. And thank you, Chris. Your work has left me feeling I can tackle Bowie on my own now should those surprises show up. Looking forward to volume 2.

    • col1234 says:

      hey, thank you. responses like this are really what makes this whole thing worthwhile. I’m glad I was able to help. all best, chris

  45. Akiin says:

    Great News!
    I´ve been following your blog for a while now and I became a big fan of your work. I read your first book and I enjoyed it so much. It became in one of my favourites Bowie books. It ´s incredible the tons of information you can extract from it. I have to tell you that it´s very helpful for a extremely addicted Bowie fan. I really appreciaten the effort and time you took to seach all the details about Bowie´s songs.
    I can´t wait to read the new one.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Thank you friend for writing about my musical hero for so many years. I saw him live in 73, 76, 77 (if you count a flat-capped piano player for Iggy as a gig) and 79. I abandoned Bowie after Scary Monsters and went on to other things but had it not been for him i would not have listened or had the attitude i have today, as well as dress sense! You have achieved a wonderful thing, if that maked sense, which many people can enjoy, and your sense of wonder can be felt for this artist which i felt as a young man so many years ago, it seems now x

  47. spanghew says:

    Looking forward to this! For a while I was worried this would never come out…but what a gigantic task!

  48. alexandriadouillette says:

    It feels unreal to be reading this. I’m glad I’ll be able to buy and read it and know it all over again, and I think we all can understand that there’s a certain weariness in all of this, and some relief to have made a cut and said “Up until here, and then I’m done, even though it’s not finished”. At least I do – struggling with projects near to your heart can grind you down real hard because you *want* to, … but why does it have to be so *hard*?
    Let it be Christmas one more time, Chris, congratulations, much respect and thanks.

    Ally xx

  49. Trevor Mill says:

    I can only echo almost everyone else in saying; for a Bowie fan this site and book(s) are essential reading. So again, many thanks.
    Any book signing tour?
    The guy who did the history of Rome podcast (another gargantuan task) ended up doing tours of Italy. Can’t see why you can’t make a few quid doing some lectures etc.

  50. Michelle Murdock says:

    As a latecomer to our man (post his death), I haven’t felt I’ve really heard a Bowie song til I’ve read your entry on it. As my enjoyment and study of his music and other efforts have literally changed my outlook on the potentialities of the creative life, your words have been instrumental. Thank you, Chris, and best regards in all your future endeavors.

  51. Eamonn says:

    Congratulations Chris.
    Can’t believe no one commented on your canine though, what a diamond doggie. Maybe Bowie won’t eat into so much of his walkies-time now.


  52. Great * great great, man! I’m so happy with that. This is the victory of tenaciousness, isn’t it? Now take a holiday, don’t think at anything, especially blohhhgs, outcoumes, or what artist being involved next (uh? From the beginning? tastin’?)…no, really proud of that, love on ya, we will be happy to have ATA.

  53. Catshriek says:

    This is a magnificent achievement, a major triumph of Bowie scholarship, a truly precious addition to the sum total of Bowie scholarship in English.

  54. audiophd says:

    My hat’s off to you, good sir. This blog has been an absolute delight from start to near-finish. I can’t wait for the publication of Ashes to Ashes, though the sentiment will be bittersweet knowing that there will be nothing afterwards. I don’t think it’s hyperbole at all to say that your companion tomes are every bit as essential to Bowiephiles as Ian McDonald’s “Revolution in the Head” is for Beatlemaniacs. And given that Bowie’s career spanned nearly 50 years as opposed to the mere dozen-ish that the Fab Four occupied makes your achievement even more monumental in scope, in my view.

  55. Jacqueline McKayle says:

    Interesting blog. I’m trying to work up the courage, or actually the academic coherence, to start my own blog, just to continue to try to live my life in peace – not to fight with people about their own understanding. My understanding is real, but their own understanding is also real as to the benefits they get from Bowie’s music. “It’s all good!” as actual young Americans and their marketers like to say. So I Googled to find out what people were saying about Bowie’s God Bless the Girl track and I found your entry on that, but it was much too late to post comments about that there. Then I was going to ask what “Pushing Ahead of the Dame” was referring to but I got the answer from Google … Queen Bitch. (Oh, that’s what that was! And I’m holding my own life in my hands since competition for wellness, wholeness and power is a real bitch but I’m not trying to compete. I am who I am and I’m just trying to stay alive. That’s a basic right that I should still have.) So what came to my mind was a great bitchy comment from a V.S. Naipaul novel which I’m paraphrasing here: “The problem with British history is that it all actually happens somewhere else!” (A reference to empire of course; “Don’t let the sun go down on me, ’cause losing everything is like the sun going down on me.” (That’s a quote from the wrong “Who” of course, but I’m actually the right “who” – a very loving, cooperative “uncle’ Tom who used to love Bowie and who is actual the aunty of Baby Grace, whose name is actually Kristian Grace. We’re Jamaican of course, as is Grace Jones in case you didn’t know. (Where else did I think she was going with a name like that? Mars? Or the land from whence “Ziggy” Marley came?) I actually met Gail Ann Dorsey backstage at MSG; not that she was actually all that nice, she didn’t really talk to me, and especially since Bowie never came out for the after-party, I was through listening to his shenanigans until I came across the God Bless the Girl track; since I had been the featured artist on BowieNet many times and this time he was calling me out by name so I thought I should give it a listen. … Okay. Yeah. So, I’m like, Oh! whatever! And please don’t try to pick a fight with me. I’m just trying to live my life. Not to make it a racial thing, but black and white people have a completely different experience of popular culture. At this point I wish I had always been completely oblivious to the stuff y’all do since it’s so completely one-sided and is usually on track to make my life a complete hell since you all are the “master” of all you survey but it’s just so completely one-sided. Guess what? Who can “I” be now? I can only be myself but y’all get to be whoever you choose with non-existent reciprocal benefits. But I guess y’all don’t see it that way. Y’all just must have been some kind of total genius in a completely white world with mysterious multi-cultural flava that’s just yours for the taking. Wow, That’s so cool! Oh well. Since white privilege is not really a thing, I guess I too will just have to use the apparent benevolence of miraculous white omnipresence and inclusion of all of the hapless refugee blacks into the charitable state of peace among savages which has been engendered by the historically peaceable Europeans who would never think to use popular culture as a form of neo-colonial warfare. I just luv, luv, luv David Bowie. He’s always so good at tickling my funny-bone. The reality of the Orwellian surveillance aka 1984 is certainly not meant to put me at a disadvantage; maybe it’s just meant to literally kill me dead since that would apparently make my life a lot easier since I also actually exist but I have to pretend that I don’t since I am not an African refugee but actually a Harvard graduate, class of 1984, but I’m not supposed to say anything about what’s really going on. I’m just supposed to be insane right? Well okay, neo-colonialism is way cute, but I also need money to pay my bills. Who can “I” be now? Only the one who always get dragged in kicking and screaming and does all the heavy lifting but never gets acknowledged or paid in the mix? It’s just the story of my life. Yeah. I guess that would be me. A real kittenish Crazy Diamond Dogged bitch, bitching like a Tom cat. Halloween Jackie. (He really just superimposed himself over anyone in the “Underground” that he felt like and it was always amusing until it was no longer amusing. It’s a real American Horror Story. But the musical accompaniment was always great, which you can never take away from him.) You folks obviously just always do whatever y’all want according to your own will. And I must say it’s really just super cool in official academic parlance but super annoying to be among the oppressed! In Christianity, God is supposed to forgive “them” since they know not what they do. But I’m trying to make sure y’all know damn well what they do so you can proceed from there and let the chips fall where they may. I think you should let a few good people read this before you delete it. Peace. I’m out. Love always, Jackie.

  56. Phil says:

    When writeups of “Blackstar”, “Dollar Days” and “I Can’t Give Everything Away” didn’t appear, I guessed you just found them too tough to write about after the fact, knowing what everyone *didn’t* know when the album was released (and what absolutely nobody spotted – I trawled all the release-day reviews of the album I could find and couldn’t find a single reference to the now-staringly-obvious meaning of those lyrics). Then the silence lengthened into years – blimey, Chris must have found those tracks really upsetting…

    I’m glad you managed it in the end, even if you’re not handing them out for free! May just have to get the book…

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