Who Knows Where the Time Goes?


Liza Jane (first blog entry, 29 July 2009).

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.

My future is 64 Quartets; criticism pieces you can find via the Patreon; other articles here and there. Down the road, another book or two, I hope. See you soon.

29 Responses to Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

  1. President Joan says:

    I discovered this blog about five years ago, googling Warszawa. Been hooked ever since.

    This blog meant everything for me in the fall of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 when we voted for best songs and albums. We finally reached the top of the lists and then Blackstar was released. It was a Friday. Played it all weekend and then came Black Monday. We all comforted each other here, I remember …

    Thank you so much for this fantastic place, Chris! It is really a treasure!

  2. Steven Carroll says:

    I am so pleased that you undertook this labour of love. I continue to find it both illuminating and entertaining. I was pleasantly surprised by today’s unexpected entry. It has set me on course to spend the week’s tedious drive to work in the company of 60’s vintage David. Thanks again Chris, I echo President Joan and say this is a genuine treasure. Cheers, Steve

  3. Matt W says:

    I was sent here from theafterword forum (started by readers of now-defunct UK magazine The Word), as the Heathen posts were being published. I added a comment to ‘Gemini Spaceship’ which was later incorporated into the entry in ATA. So a tiny bit of immortality for me! Since then I’ve been on a continuing journey revisiting DB songs and filling in gaps.

    Needless to say this blog is indeed a treasure, and I hope it leads many people to buy the books. All the best for your future projects.

    • col1234 says:

      yeah, that sounds familiar. that and Popular were among the first places that took notice of the blog, i think. thanks!

  4. Matt Hilliard-Forde says:

    I can’t remember how many years ago I found this blog. Maybe seven. I’ve read it when I can’t sleep, only to carry on reading way past the point when I could have slept. It’s made me appreciate the man even more, and reappraise some phases and songs I’d dismissed, and sent me eagerly listening to music I’d skipped over all together. Thanks for your detail and insight and the sheer effort and generosity of what you’ve provided here, and thank you for the community and space you’ve created.

  5. Simon Dale says:

    Good luck with your new endeavours. I have thoroughly enjoyed this blog and the two Bowie books, often refer to them. Fantastic achievement. Thanks.

  6. Ragnhild says:

    Always nice to read your blog.

  7. s.t. says:

    This blog and its commenters helped me absorb all of the Bowie gems that I had taken for granted, had rejected, or had not even deigned to learn about. I will be ever grateful for the opportunity to sift through hundreds of tunes with fellow Bowie obsessives and find find new meaning in his work. Thanks again Chris (and fellow commenters).

    Looking forward to reading the new blog project!

  8. crag says:

    Loved this blog since (I think) The Bewlay Brothers. It’s genuinely up there with Revolution In The Head and probably surpasses it. I’m sad it’s coming to an -almost- end but am loving 64 Quartets and looking forward to seeing it develop. Happy Anniversary!

  9. djonn says:

    Chris, It’s always nice to see a post, an update or an indulgence!
    And I love 64 Quartets as well!
    Thank you!

  10. Stolen Guitar says:

    Can’t remember exactly when I stumbled into the Dame, but I think it was about six or seven years ago. I can’t remember what led me here, either, or what you were talking about at the time, but I do remember it was brilliant and that I was fortunate to find this goldmine.

    It was my first immersion into blogs and commenting, because I knew the subject…or thought I did, until I started reading your incredibly well researched and lightly written opus’s…!

    I remember being astonished by your magical combination of meticulous research and supremely readable prose…not commonly found elsewhere, and certainly not easy to do. I asked you if you’d done anything else, and you pointed me in the direction of Locust St… and my astonishment further mounted.

    And through it all, I’ve reconnected to something that I’d temporarily lost…without even noticing its absence. I can’t explain why I lost touch with Bowie, but I did. Perhaps it was work, kids, mortgages…who knows? But until my mid-thirties, he was a constant in my life. And we go all the way back to that blind date with Ayshea, recorded just down the road from me in my home town.

    So, finding the Dame was like re-discovering myself. Memories, of course, but also reminders of just how much this great artist, David Bowie, had shaped and formed my life. I know most Bowie fans, and especially those of a similar vintage to myself, feel the same way about his influence on our personal lives. And Pushing Ahead of the Dame was an absolute slap in the face, a wake-up call of sorts.

    Which is where we are now. So, thank you Chris, for all that you’ve done for us, for me, and, of course, for the great man himself. This is a monumental piece of work, and an entirely fitting and appropriate permanent memorial to his artistic life.

  11. Laurie Frost says:

    Happy Blogday. Just ordered print Ashes to Ashes.

  12. Wonderful blog, thank you. I discovered it around Width of a Circle and forward-cherished each and every entry.

    My claim to fame is my top 50 songs was pretty damn close, gaining col1234’s salutations.

  13. crag says:

    Hi I have a possibly odd question- when is your birthday? I ask because I remember you posted a great list of pieces of art/music/cinema for each year of your life and would love to read it again! Cheers!

    • col1234 says:

      huh, doesn’t ring a bell. i did something on twitter of a thing (painting/book/music) per year a while ago on my birthday (Feb 23)

  14. Anonymous says:

    By far the best Bowie blog. Thanks for being around.

  15. Greg Evans says:

    Thanks so much for all of this Chris. I’ve enjoyed every word, even the ones I disagreed with – maybe them more so. You have created something truly valuable here, an archive that will be used for years and years to come.

  16. matthewtkk says:

    Chris, after poring over your Bowie series and devouring your astonishing pieces on Throwing Muses and Pixies, I think I would be fine if I was told I could read only your writing about music from here on. I’m just grateful you find the energy to do it and I hope you are rewarded for it.

  17. M says:

    Ever since he died, I get so damn emotional reading this blog (discovered it in 2014. maybe). Thank you Chris, that’s all I wanted to say.

  18. Anonymous says:

    As time goes by… You must remember this
    A kiss is just a kiss
    A sigh is just a sigh
    The fundamental things apply
    As time goes by
    And when two lovers woo
    They still say “I love you”
    On that you can rely
    No matter what the future brings
    As time goes by
    Moonlight and love songs
    Never out of date
    Hearts full of passion
    Jealousy and hate
    Woman needs man, and man must have his mate
    That no one can deny
    It’s still the same old story
    A fight for love and glory
    A case of do or die
    The world will always welcome lovers
    As time goes by
    Moonlight and love songs
    Never out…

  19. Stormbringer says:

    Off-topic: I’m looking for Bowie’s citizenship status. I can’t find anything. Does that mean he’s lifelong British citizen/star-powered dual citizen world over?

  20. Colin, as always a thoughtful entry. On the personal side, and as a fledgling music writer myself, I’ve wondered how readership stats progressed over time and if you felt that Twitter etc helped bring in new readers. Word-of-mouth about the excellence of the writing and depth of review was the key, of course.

    “Dame” is still on my tool-bar as my early morning go-to, and always will be, if only for the memories alone. Looking forward to “Quartets” – first entry was excellent.

    Cheers, Kevin

  21. James LaBove says:

    I first stumbled across PAotD sometime around when The Next Day came out. The first entry I read was possibly an open thread on Where Are We Now? I could be misremembering. But I was intrigued by the concept of the blog, and I so I started from Liza Jane and worked my way forward.

    I was instantly hooked to Chris’ writing style, and his approach to evaluating Bowie’s music. Within a week, I’d caught myself up to the most recent posts, and a couple of weeks later I started re-reading the whole thing from the start again. I’ve done that a couple times since then, counting the books.

    Bowie’s been part of my musical life since Heathen; I’d never listened to much of him beyond the hits up until then, but that album captivated me and prompted me to explore his back catalog. By the time The Next Day came around, he was far and away my favorite musician. I remember crying in my office when Where Are We Now was surprise-released; it caught me so off-guard that he’d decided to put out music again. I called my boyfriend and asked him to give it a listen. “He’s back… I can’t believe he’s back.” Bowie’s music has been a constant in our relationship, which makes me so happy. He fell in love with Bowie’s music starting with The Next Day and worked his way through the albums backwards, Nothing Has Changed style. Bowie would’ve probably approved.

    SInce then, Chris’ analysis of Bowie’s work has been tied to my enjoyment of Bowie’s music in a very direct way. It’s a part of my fandom, just as much as the Reality Tour poster hanging on my wall. That poster formerly contained my concert ticket from the Houston show – one of my prized possessions. A few months back, I lost the ticket while putting a less-flimsy frame on the poster. I searched frantically for it that day, spent a few days letting it bother me way more than it should, realized the universe was likely trying to share an important point with me about something I wasn’t grasping, and let it go.

    My small claim to fame on the blog was an indirect mention of my choice for favorite Bowie song in one of Chris’ polls – I picked When the Boys Come Marching Home (and I wasn’t trolling!). It reminds me of certain people in my life for very specific reasons, and it always makes my heart swell.

    I find I don’t listen to Bowie as much as I did before he died, which surprises me. But almost nothing that I listen to currently would exist without his influence, and he’s often on my mind. He’s still my musical hero, and I’m so glad to have had such a gifted writer to broaden my understanding and love for these songs that mean so much to me. Thanks so much, Chris!

  22. princeasbo says:

    Thanks again Chris for all your work. It’s been an entertaining and informative ride. My copy of ‘Ashes To Ashes’ is due arrive today, a birthday present from my mother.

  23. Christine says:

    I have only discovered this blog during lockdown so a year after the last entry. With time on my hands due to forced retirement by COVID and inspired by Bowie’s Glastonbury set on the BBC I have been on a Bowie adventure with the blog and your two books and thank goodness for Spotify. So much music that passed me by over the years due to life’s demands and I now have the time to explore the treasure chest. What joy and what a wonderful way to get through this current difficult time. Thank you, Chris, for facilitating such an interesting, informative and heart-warming collection of responses.

  24. Son silent says:

    Hi Chris,

    I’m not offering any great insight here but just to let you know that with a couple of friends we’ve just finished a lockdown project of listening to every Bowie album to make our personal rankings. Your blog which I first delved into a few years ago has been a perfect accompaniment to the tracks.

    The 3 of us have all been big Bowie fans since mid teens in the early 90s, my first Bowie fan experience (I had heard Let’s Dance, Absolute Beginners and maybe a couple of others on the radio as a young kid) was when one of these friends lent me the Changesbowie compilation CD in 1992 and I was instantly and forever hooked.

    After that it was straight into Ziggy, Low, Station to Station, Hunky Dory and all the rest. It’s interesting to read that the ‘Canonization’ of the Berlin albums only came about in the 1990s, at that time in the early 90s they were much of what drew me and my friends to Bowie just add much as the early 70s records. I grew into Bowie with the Rykodisc reissues.

    A few immediate thoughts after finishing the whole back catalogue.

    A) it is all interesting because of the meta-narrative, even in the darkest and worst moments of Never Let Me Down there is a story to tell. Your blog brings that to life in such an engaging way, the writing is often beautiful and inspired.

    B) Some albums are really very underrated in the general critical perception, Lodger, Buddha, Outside come to mind.

    C) Bowie was always engaged with his image/reputation/legacy and how he would be perceived. Even when he failed you can mostly see that he wanted it to be something that would be remembered. The exception to that rule I guess would be Tonight.

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