Forgive an indulgent entry. Ten years ago today, I wrote the first post on this blog (linked above). It was the work of a day or so: looking through some Bowie books, digging a tiny bit into the origin of the song “Liza Jane,” and being delighted to find a clip on YouTube of Bowie singing it live in 2004. (As Toy had yet to be bootlegged, Bowie’s 2000 studio remake of “Liza Jane” was still a mystery—I added that link some years later.)
A decade can feel like no time at all, until it does. When I published the “Liza Jane” entry that July evening, I didn’t put up a link on Twitter (I wasn’t on then) nor on Facebook (still in its “Brian from grade school! how are you?” sunny phase). YouTube was in its childhood: in fall 2009, I found few of Bowie’s Sixties tracks there. Spotify had barely started—I knew no one who used it yet. On occasion, I’d link to this sort-of RealPlayer set of Sixties Bowie tracks that I found on an Italian fan website.
I first made note of my new blog a week later on the other blog that I ran. So it’s quite likely that not a single person read the “Liza Jane” post on the day it came out! An auspicious beginning.
It helped that the first Bowie song to write about was a cover, and a cover of an old American song at that, as I’d written about a lot of old American songs in the 2000s. Plus information about the origins of “Liza Jane” was scant in many Bowie references at the time: I thought “well, here’s something I can offer.” As you can see from the original entry, I didn’t offer much. The Rebel Rebel version of the “Liza Jane” entry went far more into the song’s murky life. (Also, there’s a documentary about the song in the works.)
A month earlier, I was at the used record store Turn It Up! in Northampton (still standing, unlike a lot of record stores from 2009) and bought Bowie’s Early On and The Deram Anthology, which cemented the idea of doing a song-by-song thing on him. What were my other resources then? Nicholas Pegg’s Complete David Bowie, biographies by David Buckley, Christopher Sandford, the Gilmans, and George Tremlett, and a battered copy of Kevin Cann’s out-of-print Chronology. Liner notes. Bowie Wonderworld, the Illustrated DB Guide and Teenage Wildlife. That was about it. (Seeing myself quoted in a subsequent edition of Pegg’s guide was strange—felt like I’d time traveled and monkeyed with something.)
The blog started in a dry patch, as 2009 was one of the blank years of Bowie’s public life. He was rarely seen and wasn’t working on music (barring home demos, perhaps). The big Bowie news, when I began this site, was the 40th anniversary of “Space Oddity” and a digital release that let buyers isolate its tracks; upcoming multi-disc reissues of David Bowie and Station To Station, of VH1 Storytellers on CD/DVD and Labyrinth on Blu-Ray; “Cat People” being used in the new Tarantino movie.
So, much like now—an age of Bowie reissues, reprints, commemorations, anniversaries. The difference, of course, was that he was still here then, watching TV, traveling, escaping from being David Bowie for a little while.
As the 2010s, which will always be the “Bowie decade” for me, are almost over, so is the long autumn of this blog. Still, wintertime isn’t all bad. Pushing Ahead of the Dame will still be around. I’ll look back on various Bowie songs or albums or compilations, and cover whatever bits and bobs of his past turn up (there are a couple more Looking Through a Keyhole demos to deal with, for instance). If we have only Bowie’s past to consider now, it’s a rich past, one full of secrets and surprises—we could only be at the start of it, should the estate do a full archival series one day.
Whenever you discovered this site, I hope it answered a question you had about a song, or turned you on to some DB obscurity, or just distracted you from a bad work day. Thanks for stopping by.