An Occasional Dream

November 17, 2009

69addict

An Occasional Dream (demo).
An Occasional Dream (LP).
An Occasional Dream (BBC, 1970).

As young love often does, it sort of went wrong after about a year.

David Bowie, Golden Years documentary, 2000.

The other “Hermione” song Bowie composed in early 1969, “An Occasional Dream” replaces the studied heartbreak and intimacy of “Letter to Hermione” with a more stoic approach. Bowie was taken with Jacques Brel (his folk duo Feathers often performed Brel’s “Amsterdam,” which Bowie would later record), and “An Occasional Dream” has an attempted Gallic sensibility—a dead love affair is examined, pinned to a card and cased up. The singer seems to mourn more the passing of his beautiful youth than he does his departed lover.

“An Occasional Dream” is pretty enough, if it doesn’t have as memorable a melody or a vocal as “Hermione,” and it seems far more affected: the way Bowie swoons out the title phrase, or lines like “we’d speak of a Swedish room/of hessian and wood.”

The demo was recorded with John Hutchinson ca. mid-April 1969 (Hutchinson sings lines a bar after Bowie, or gives backing vocals, and gets the occasional lead vocal); it’s the best recording of the song, as the studio version, featuring dippy flute accompaniment, hissed interjections (“TIME!”) and a Bowie vocal that sounds like a Barry Gibb impersonation, is overcooked. It was cut ca. July-August 1969 for the LP Space Oddity. Bowie played “Occasional Dream” once on a BBC session on 5 February 1970 and then retired it.

Top: Mary Ellen Mark, “Heroin addict behind a door in London, 1969.”


If I’m Dreaming My Life

December 31, 2013

rushmore

If I’m Dreaming My Life.
If I’m Dreaming My Life (VH1 Storytellers, 1999).
If I’m Dreaming My Life (only live performance, 1999).

“If I’m Dreaming My Life” wasn’t just the longest track on ‘Hours’: it was one of the longest studio recordings that Bowie made in his life. Its contemporaries (length-wise) were epics and scene-changers: “Station to Station,” “Width of a Circle,” “Cygnet Committee,” “The Motel,” “Memory of a Free Festival,” the upcoming “Bring Me the Disco King.” If Bowie songs were comic books, these would be the Jack Kirbys. So when considered in this grand company, “If I’m Dreaming My Life” comes off as aridly grandiose.

On ‘Hours,’ though, its odd structure (four verses broken up by guitar solos, the second and last verses given tagged-on refrains, and a three-minute bloodletting of a coda) and its occasionally disconcerting chord progressions* gave it a presence, if a blank one, on the album: it’s an empty quadrant of the map. “Dreaming My Life” seems half-finished at times—Bowie sings emotive “ooohhhs” in lieu of words; the second guitar solo appears to have started as a parody of “Under the Bridge” and hardly developed further. Nothing pans out; the timing’s off. Lights fade. A father “steps aside/at the wrong time:” a bungled bit of wedding stagecraft—a father giving the bride away too soon—or the bitter thought of an estranged husband: he shouldn’t have given her away at all? Or the line “was it air she breathed?”: it’s a man seeming to fancy, like four hundred songwriters before him, that his lover seems scarcely human. Then he concludes the line with another “at the wrong time.” She wasn’t as much perfect as poisoned.

Though demoed and partially tracked in Bermuda, “If I’m Dreaming My Life” was completely remade once Bowie and Reeves Gabrels returned to New York for overdub and mixing sessions. Former Rollins Band guitarist Chris Haskett was recruited to play rhythm guitar; he’s echoed, in places, by a stabbing keyboard line. Mark Plati and Mike Levesque, perhaps energized by playing “live” on the backing track instead of cutting their typical overdubs, provide one of the more supple foundations on the album. Plati’s bass is the lead melodic voice of the intro, while his roaming fills in the coda are a counter-melody to Bowie’s static refrain; Levesque, charged with flooring life into the song in the refrain verses, serves as a gravity well (for all its faults, ‘Hours’ has some of Bowie’s more dynamic-sounding drum tracks).

The song’s bid for “greatness,” or at least to hold its head up among the likes of “Station to Station,” is Bowie’s performance in the coda. It’s a simple conceit: he tries to complete a single phrase yet hardly seems able to make the effort (often he’ll just get out a “dreaming my….” before stumbling back to the start); it’s a man reduced to his voice. Beginning with keyboards masked as a horn/wind quartet (in the song’s few live performances, this role was assumed by Mike Garson’s “church” organ chords), the coda gains fresh dimensions whenever Bowie manages to finish the phrase: a distorted, chiming guitar; a choir of secondary Bowies; the melodic generosity of Plati’s bass. If it’s a triumph, it’s a barren one. Compared to the imaginative density of a “Station” or “Width of a Circle,” “Dreaming My Life” seems like an abandoned outpost of some crumbling empire.

Recorded ca. May 1999, Chung King Studio and/or Looking Glass Studio, NYC. Performed on VH1 Storytellers and once live, at Libro Music Hall, Vienna, 17 October 1999.

* The verses are basically in G minor, though a motivic chord sequence—found in the intro, refrain tags and coda—is Gm-Eb-C-F-D, suggesting a move to the parallel major. There’s a quintessential odd Bowie progression in the first round of the coda, where a C-sharp major chord crops up where the ear expects (by now) C major (the first “dreaming my…”).

Top: Rushmore (Anderson, 1998).


Planet of Dreams

August 12, 2013

deadman

Planet of Dreams.

The story of David Bowie’s music is that of a boy’s club. There obviously have been women (a great many) in Bowie’s personal life; on stage and in the studio, it’s been a far different matter.

There were muses and fellow performers: Hermione Farthingale, Dana Gillespie, Ava Cherry. His Arts Lab co-founder Mary Finnigan. Fellow composers like Lesley Duncan. Angela Bowie, who in the early Seventies was essentially Bowie’s manager, strategist, minder, roadie and work-engine (for all we know, Iman’s played the same role in the past 20 years). Corrinne Schwab has quietly run his empire since the mid-Seventies. There were choreographers and costumers like Toni Basil and Natasha Korniloff. Backing singers like Emm Gryner, Holly Palmer and Robin Clark. Occasional studio contributors, like the violinist Lisa Germano.

But there’s only been one woman who stands in the “frontline” of Bowie musicians, the only one whose name ranks with the likes of Gabrels or Garson, Alomar or Slick: Ms. Gail Ann Dorsey.

And that said, there’s a sense of missed opportunity with Dorsey and Bowie. While she had a marvelous voice, she rarely sang on Bowie’s albums and, more strikingly, she didn’t play on many of them. We’re about to say goodbye to her for a time, as Mark Plati and Tony Visconti were the only bassists on the stretch of albums between Hours and Reality (as fate would have it, the one album she did play on during this time, Toy, was never issued). Dorsey would remain Bowie’s touring bassist.

Some of her absence was possibly due to timing: she’d been a solo artist since the Eighties and was working on her own material, and she was in demand for other sessions. Some of it was a matter of logistics: e.g., when recording with Visconti, it was simpler to have Visconti play the basslines. But Dorsey seemed to have some regret that she hadn’t been more involved in the records. “It’s hard for me to get a look in with all the great bass players that hang around David. But I enjoy playing with David in any capacity,” she said in a 2003 webchat.*

After the Earthling sessions, Dorsey and Bowie collaborated on “Planet of Dreams,” a track slotted for a 1997 compilation to benefit the Tibet House Trust.** “Planet of Dreams” is little like the rest of Earthling. Recorded mainly with acoustic instruments, its establishing mood is a vague “Eastern” vibe: a glacial sense of grandeur as conveyed by a slow tempo, a wide-panned stereo mix featuring a rotating cast of tastefully deployed sound-colors (among those here are congas, a singing Gabrels guitar line and Garson rumbling on the bass end of his piano); it’s the sort of soundscape favored by late-career Robbie Robertson and Peter Gabriel and seemingly by any post-1990 travel documentary set in the Himalayan region.

Built on a single verse, Bowie singing each phrase to the same rising melody, that ramps up to a ten-times-repeated single-line chorus, “Planet of Dreams” has a sweep and power to it. Its lyric begins with intimations of reincarnation, takes an odd detour through Clark Gable’s eyes and “Eisenhower blam[ing] the poor” and closes with the title phrase, a more cutting idea than the aspirational-sounding “we’re living in planet of dreams” suggests. The line’s more likely Bowie playing on the Mahayana Buddhist concept of māyā, in which we perceive the world as if we’re audience members as a magic show, taking the illusions unfurled on stage as real.

Dorsey’s harmony vocals, coming midway through the verse, strengthen the song as Bowie’s single-tracked verse vocal is flighty and wavering in the first lines. Their harmonies on the chorus, soaring over rolling Zach Alford fills and cymbal crashes and the quiet musings of Dorsey’s own graceful bass, make the title line hypnotic. What saves the track from an icy loftiness is a slight sense of humor: the piano line that winks at George Michael’s “Freedom”: the “Walk on the Wild Side” vocal tag that Dorsey sings.

“Planet of Dreams” could have been the start of a promising partnership on record. Instead, Bowie and Dorsey would remain a stage collaboration only.

Recorded August 1996, Looking Glass Studios, New York [? possibly early 1997? see comments]. Released on 23 June 1997 on Long Live Tibet (EMI 7243 8 33140 2 7).

* A follow-up question was more blunt: Gail were you pissed off Bowie didn’t ask you to play on Heathen [?]
GailAnnDorsey: No. I am always surprised that I am still in the band after all these years. Besides, I always get called in for the hard work.

** The song was credited to Bowie and Dorsey on the CD sleeve. I didn’t find the copyright on BMI’s site (where DB’s songs usually are registered) so I don’t know if Dorsey got songwriting credit (I’m assuming it would be for music).


When I Live My Dream

October 2, 2009

chinoise1

When I Live My Dream.

Bowie’s first LP was essentially finished in mid-December 1966 but Deram sat on it for more than six months. In February 1967, Bowie cut two new tracks that became last-minute additions, leavening the album’s weirdness with more standard pop.

Much like “Sell Me a Coat,” “When I Live My Dream” has a lovely melody burdened with awkward lyrics (“the trees will play the rhythm of my dream” ?) and smothered (in later versions) by an overdone arrangement. Whenever Bowie deliberately tried to write for a mainstream audience in this period, as he appeared to be doing here, he fell into weak artifice. He could easily connect with the sad, the lost and the eccentric, but found it difficult to, basically, write for squares.

That said, Bowie and his manager Ken Pitt apparently thought “Dream” could be their break-through song and so kept flogging it despite the lack of label enthusiasm. A fairly spare initial version was soon followed by a remake with a sodden Ivor Raymonde arrangement, the latter version proposed as a single (Deram nixed it). Bowie pushed “Dream” for the rest of the decade—including it in the mime show Pierrot in Turquoise, recording a German version and making it the closing number of his “Love You Till Tuesday” promotional film. He finally gave up in July 1969, when Bowie performed “Dream” in a big-band arrangement at the International Song Festival competition in Valetta, Malta, and lost to a Spanish child prodigy named Cristina.

The song suffered from bad timing, in part—it reeked of stale sentiment and sounded corny when it was released in the summer of ’67. And the lyric, with its tired knights-and-castles imagery, its weak rhymes (“horse” paired with “voice”) and the occasional groan-inducing line like “tell them I’m a dreaming kind of guy,” is a real muddle. The singer’s been dumped and contents himself with imagining his lost lover in his dreams, but he also keeps putting off his illusions, as though he needs her legal consent to get things started. It builds up to the final histrionic verse where he assures her that he’ll only stalk her in his dreamworld.

Best suited as a cue for nostalgia, despite it having had no resonance in its own time. Leos Carax used it in 1984’s Boy Meets Girl, and Seu Jorge‘s version, recorded in 2004 for the Life Aquatic soundtrack, is likely the song’s finest interpretation. Singing most of it in Portuguese helped.

The first version was recorded on 25 February 1967, the remake on 3 June 1967 (both are on Deram Anthology).

Top: Jean-Pierre Léaud and Anne Wiazemsky in Godard’s La Chinoise, 1967.


C’est La Vie

April 21, 2016

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This entry, on a minor but sweet song from ca. late 1967, is in the book but never was on the blog. This was due to the fact that the recording didn’t leak until well after I’d covered the Sixties on the blog (2009, basically–I think “C’est” only popped up around 2012).

I am curious whether other demos from the messy “second (and never recorded) Bowie Deram LP” era of late 1967 to early 1968 will eventually surface. I wouldn’t be surprised if so. Looking forward to hearing “Angel Angel Grubby Face” and the Ernie Johnson tape someday.

C’est la Vie.

Bowie wrote “C’est la Vie” in summer 1967 and his manager Kenneth Pitt sent demos that October to song publishers and the American singer Chris Montez, to no response. The elaborate tape, which had eight instrumental and vocal versions of the song, with multiple vocal overdubs and prominent clunky bass (apparently Bowie), suggested Pitt thought “C’est la Vie” one of Bowie’s more commercially promising efforts.

Considered for Bowie’s second Deram album but never taken beyond the demo stage, “C’est la Vie” had a warm melody to suit its lyric’s homebody sentiments. Bowie’s content to watch the world pass by his window, hoping that time will pass him by in turn. It’s a lassitude found in a contemporary interview he gave to Chelsea News (“David is contented with contentment: he is a happy loving person with a gentle nature”). He later reworked one line for “An Occasional Dream” (“burns my wall with time”) and recycled some of its top melody for “Shadow Man.” You could also argue that “Conversation Piece” starts here.

Recorded: (demo, still unreleased) ca. September 1967, Essex Music. Bowie: lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, tambourine, bass?

Top: John Atherton, “London, 1967” (“September 13, 1967 at St. James’s park. She was from Germany.”)


Links: Chapters 1-3

March 24, 2015

Chapter 1: The Junior Visualizer (1964-1966)

bowie '65

“Liza Jane” (Toy)
“Louie Louie Go Home”
“I Pity The Fool”
“Take My Tip”
“That’s Where My Heart Is”
“I Want My Baby Back”
Bars of the County Jail”
“You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving”
(Toy)
“Baby Loves That Way”
(Toy)
“I’ll Follow You”
“Glad I’ve Got Nobody”
“Baby, That’s a Promise”
“Can’t Help Thinking About Me”
“And I Say to Myself”
“Do Anything You Say”
“Good Morning Girl”
“I Dig Everything”
(Toy)
“I’m Not Losing Sleep”

More: Britain on Film (Look at Life): “Fashion,” London on Film: “Suburbs,” “Why I Hate the Sixties” (2004); Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy (conclusion); Devin McKinney on Colin MacInnes; Nick Bentley, “Translating English: Youth, Race and Nation in Colin MacInnes’s City of Spades and Absolute Beginners;” Bowie: Tonight interview, November 1964; The Beatles Anthology: 1963, 1964, 1965; “British Mods and Rockers” (BBC); scenes from Billy Liar;  Georgie Fame, “Yeh Yeh“; Glenn Gould, “The Search for Petula Clark“(1967); Bowie, radio interview, Marquee Club, 1966; Pye Studios.

Chapter 2: Gnome Man’s Land (1966-1968)

db1

“Rubber Band” (album remake)
“The London Boys”
(Toy)
“Over the Wall We Go”
“Uncle Arthur”
“She’s Got Medals”
“Join the Gang”
“Did You Ever Have a Dream”
“There Is a Happy Land”
“We Are Hungry Men”
“Sell Me a Coat
” (remake)
“Little Bombardier”
“Maid of Bond Street”
“Silly Boy Blue”
(Toy)
“Come and Buy My Toys”
“Please Mr. Gravedigger”
The Laughing Gnome
The Gospel According To Tony Day
When I Live My Dream
(remake)
Love You Till Tuesday
(single remake)

David-Bowie-1967

“Waiting For the Man”: (1967) (1970) (1972) (1976)
Little Toy Soldier
Pancho
Everything Is You
“Silver Tree Top School For Boys”:
(Slender Plenty) (Beatstalkers)
April’s Tooth of Gold
“Let Me Sleep Beside You”
(Toy)
“Karma Man”
(BBC, 1968)
“C’est La Vie”

“Even a Fool Learns to Love”
“In the Heat of the Morning” (Toy)
“London Bye Ta-Ta”
(1970 remake)
“When I’m Five” (BBC, 1968
) (demo, 1969)
“Social Kind of Girl”
“Ching-a-Ling”
“The Mask”

More: The Strange World of Gurney Slade (1960: Ep. 1, opening sequence); Anthony Newley, live, 1964; Alan Klein, “I Wanna Be a Beatnik“, 1964; Alan Sillitoe, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (esp. “Uncle Ernest,” “The Decline and Fall of Frankie Buller” and “The Disgrace of Jim Scarfedale”); There Is a Happy Land (1974 adaptation); Heinrich Harrer, “My Life in Forbidden Lhasa” (1955); Ophiel, The Art and Practice of Astral Projection (1961);  David Guy, “Christmas Humphreys”; The Prisoner, excerpt from “Fall Out” (1967); “Forgotten Heroes: Big Jim Sullivan“; The Mothers of Invention, Freak Out (1966); The Fugs, “Dirty Old Man,”(1966); Ken Nordine, “Word Jazz” (1957); The Image (Armstrong, 1967, excerpts).

Chapter 3: The Free States’ Refrain (1969)

db69

“Space Oddity” (demo) (original version) (1979 remake)
“Love Song”
“Life Is a Circus”
“Letter to Hermione”
(demo)
“An Occasional Dream”
(demo)
“Janine”
“Conversation Piece”
(Toy)
“Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud” (B-side)
(LP remake)
“Don’t Sit Down”

“God Knows I’m Good”
“Unwashed and Somewhat Slightly Dazed”
“Cygnet Committee”
” (“Lover to the Dawn”, demo version)
“Memory of a Free Festival”
” (1970 remake)

More:  2001: A Space Odyssey (“Stargate” sequence); The Bee Gees, “New York Mining Disaster 1941“; Apollo 11, pre-flight conference, July 1969;  International Times (1969 archive); Scott Walker, live in Japan, 1970; Jean Itard, Victor de l’Aveyron (French) (English); Prof. John Merryman, France: May 1968; MC5, “Kick Out the Jams” live, Detroit, 1969; Rolling Stones, Hyde Park free concert, July 1969; George McKay, “The Free Festivals and Fairs of Albion” (in Senseless Acts of Beauty); Beckenham Free Festival, 1969.


Letter To Hermione

November 16, 2009

bowieherm

Letter To Hermione (“I’m Not Quite” demo).
Letter To Hermione (LP).

Elvis Costello, irritated by biographical interpretations of his songs, once said in frustration to an interviewer something like “if Bob Dylan or I meant for you to take us literally, we’d have included a verse that said: So-and-so, my ex-wife, is a real bitch, this is where she lives, go burn down her house.”

Bowie’s “Letter to Hermione” appears to fit that bill: it’s a diary entry of a song, addressed to his actual ex-girlfriend by name, detailing what his biographers have described as a devastating break-up. Hermione Farthingale wasn’t her real name (no one knows, or will disclose, the true one). Bowie met her through Lindsay Kemp, danced with her for the film The Pistol Shot and the two were a couple by the summer of 1968, living together in South Kensington, forming a folk trio. By the time the two filmed Love You Till Tuesday in early 1969, it was over (Farthingale apparently had dumped Bowie for another dancer), and Bowie and Farthingale’s last day together was on a soundstage, miming “Sell Me a Coat” and “Ching-a-Ling” for the cameras.

So we have these facts, which impress the songs that Bowie wrote about the break-up (this and “An Occasional Dream“) with the engraved stamp of truth. “Letter to Hermione” isn’t just a sad break-up song, it’s a real sad break-up song. Marc Spitz, Bowie’s latest biographer, calls the song “plaintive and literal,” Nicholas Pegg calls it “painfully intimate.” Here, at last, we believe Bowie took off the mask—here is the true Bowie, dripping out his heart accompanied by guitar, so much that the song should have been credited to David Jones.

It’s understandable, because Bowie remains such an unknowable creature that any visible crack in the wall is worth a sortie. But do we consider something like “Letter to Hermione” an essential, “painfully intimate” Bowie song mainly because we believe it to be true? Is its formal beauty—the tender melody of the verses, the sweep of Bowie’s guitar—not enough?

Because the song isn’t a raw diary spewing at all, but has as much artifice and craft as “Space Oddity”: it’s structured neatly with a mirrored guitar intro and outro which enclose three verses (the first details how desolate “Bowie” is feeling, the second notes the rumors he’s getting about how “Hermione” is faring, and the third speculates about her new lover and her happiness). In the middle of each verse, Bowie, in desperate confidence, suggests that “Hermione” misses him (“You cry a little in the dark”) answered by a short four-syllable line (“well so do I”). And as James Perone notes, as the song is a “letter” it discards typical “love song” standards, shunning, for the most part,  short melodic hooks in favor of long, meandering phrases, while its rhymes are often assonant or half-rhymes (“well/girl,” “pain/same”).

The demo (called “I’m Not Quite”) furthers the sense of “reality,” with its poor, scratchy sonic quality, muffled guitar and Bowie’s tender- and awkward-sounding vocal. (The demo literally is a bedside confessional.) But as John M. Cunningham wrote, the demo’s rawness was refined away by the time Bowie recorded “Hermione” for his LP four months later. There he sings in a more mannered style, choosing a carefully forlorn and wistful tone to deliver his lines. He seems comfortable with it being a work of art, even if we aren’t.

The demo was recorded ca. mid-April 1969, likely in Bowie’s shared flat in Foxgrove Road, Beckenham; the studio cut was recorded ca. August 1969 and is on Bowie’s second LP, called David Bowie in the UK, given the woeful name Man of Words, Man of Music in the US and eventually rechristened Space Oddity by RCA.

Top: Bowie and Farthingale already heading in opposite directions, 1968.


1965 Demos Revisited

January 28, 2019

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That’s Where My Heart Is.
I Want My Baby Back.
Bars of the County Jail.
How Can I Forget You (fragment).
It’s True, My Love (fragment).
I Live In Dreams (fragment).

With the surfacing of three 1965 Bowie demos that no one (barring, presumably, some Bowie friends and his archivist) knew about before, his development as a songwriter has a touch more light shed upon it.

Only three of his mid-1965 solo demos have been released, on the Rhino CD collection Early On, and apparently only then because Bowie’s once-producer Shel Talmy had them. Given that these “new” demos—“How Can I Forget You,” “It’s True, My Love” and “I Live in Dreams”—are similar in tone and construction to Early On‘s “That’s Where My Heart Is” and “I Want My Baby Back,” this suggests these hail from the same period.

(“Bars of the County Jail,” Bowie’s jaunty singalong Western, whose lyric he took from an English composition written during his days at Bromley Tech, was an outlier, although it’s an ancestor, thematically, of “Wild Eyed Boy From Freecloud” and “I Have Not Been to Oxford Town“).

david-bowie-1965

In 1965, Talmy was looking to corner the market on young British rock & roll songwriters. With Pete Townshend and Ray Davies in his stable, he set aside occasional studio time for Bowie, whom he considered a viable, if rough prospect. Bowie’s demo sessions, hailing from around the time he left the Manish Boys and joined the Lower Third, produced nothing of remote commercial appeal, something that Talmy realized at the time (“it was weird music”). (It’s unknown if these newly-unearthed demos were cut in a studio or (more likely) at Bowie’s home or at his then-manager’s London flat.)

The mid-1965 demos document an ambitious young man, with two flop “hard” R&B singles under his belt, shifting into a softer, more pop-oriented sound. It’s the start of the trail that will lead to “Sell Me a Coat” and “When I Live My Dream,” and ultimately to Hunky Dory.

Of the “new” demos (which have been heard in 30-second fragments offered by the auction house), “How Can I Forget You” has Bowie working up a lower-pitched crooning voice in the opening verse. It’s similar in that regard to “That’s Where My Heart Is,” where a fledgling Bowie baritone is heard at about fifty seconds in.

“That’s Where My Heart Is” uses the blueprint of Gene Pitney singles like “I’m Gonna Be Strong” and “Yesterday’s Hero,” whose near-conversational verses built to manically-sung choruses. Bowie pegged his verse melody to rigid down-strums on his guitar, gave a touch of Petula Clark to his looser-phrased pre-chorus, and then shot for the heights in his refrains. The lyric is hokum and its bridge sounds like the work of an even greener songwriter, suggesting that was an older piece Bowie wedged into the song.

“I Live in Dreams,” at least from the opening verse in the fragment, could be the font of some of Bowie’s Sixties lyrical preoccupations—a yen to escape mundane suburban reality (sometimes even through astral projection—see “Did You Ever Have a Dream?“) and the isolation of the self. He’s yearning to find a soulmate on his narrow wavelength but resisting the idea of “falling in love.” “You own my heart but not my mind/ Whatever I do, I shall be free!” Bowie sings, a line that could have been in “Cygnet Committee.”

The least of the demos are “It’s True, My Love,” which from available evidence aims to be a poor man’s Herman’s Hermits song, and Early On‘s “I Want My Baby Back.” Both demos find Bowie attempting vocal harmonies beyond the roughneck call-and-responses of his first singles. “I Want My Baby Back” is double-tracked throughout, with an additional Bowie lead for the refrains; “It’s True, My Love” has what’s possibly an octave-higher Bowie on the refrain, first answering the lead, then harmonizing on the last line.

“I Want My Baby Back” needed a catchier guitar riff and a lyrical rewrite (its verses marry clichés with lines like “I tried to phone her but the cable was broke by a storm”) to go anywhere, and didn’t. While it’s hard to give a verdict on  “It’s True, My Love,” given its fragmented form, it’s unlikely that it greatly transformed in its latter minutes.

By the end of 1965, Bowie had moved further across the board as a songwriter, as he’d written his Mod version of “Silly Boy Blue” and “Can’t Help Thinking About Me” by that point. But it’s enjoyable to get a peek at him while still in the early stages of becoming himself. The sudden appearance of these “new” demos suggest a number of unknown lost Bowie songs from the Sixties, more of which may surface in the near future.

Recorded: ca. spring-summer 1965, IBC Studios? Bowie home studios? Bowie: lead vocal, acoustic guitar. First release (That’s Where, Baby Back, Bars): 30 July 1991, Early On (1964-1966) (Rhino R2 70526).

REQUISITE PROMO BIT:  Far more on Bowie’ Sixties is found in Rebel Rebel. Also, hey Ashes to Ashes is publishing in less than a month! Various New York readings and radio things are happening from 20 to 25 February. It looks very likely there will be an event in London on 14 March 2019, and hopefully a Manchester event soon before or afterward. More information soon, with hope.


Chapter Seven: The Battle of the Wilderness (1988-1992)

December 26, 2018

Chicago_Tribune_Thu__May_25__1989_

Epigraphs  I really wanted to use another Coleman quote—”The guitar takes up so much space and sound; it’s the overtone system that’s fed the rock and roll community. And everybody finds their own emotions in that system”—but I could find zero references for it anywhere. It was just a line I’d written in an old notebook, taken from, as best as I can recall, a Village Voice “Ornette listens to contemporary music” feature in early 1987?, and the reference was to Husker Du’s Warehouse: Songs and Stories? However, the quote I used, from Michael Stephans’ Experiencing Ornette Coleman, 77, is about as good; Hunt Sales: from a TV interview shot during rehearsals for the International Rock Awards performance, ca. late May 1989.

276  Stamford Hill    play out of tune…but it’s mine: to Ted Drozdowski, Guitar.com, 1 November 2000.

277  circling the island: to Eliana Yu, Arts & Entertainment, Summer 2015; Z axis…possible surface area: to Jedd Beaudoin, for Ytsejam.com, 8 June 2003. Gabrels described Belew as having a “painterly, brushy” right hand, using a light pick on his strings; hyper conservative: Guitar Moderne, 13 February 2015; impact upon civilians…choir of angels: to Mike Keneally, Noneradio interview, October 2000; grabbing different notes…fool my own bass player…licks from 1952: Guitar.com, 1 November 2000. Gabrels’ gear during Tin Machine included a Steinberger with a Mesa Boogie Quad preamp and a Boogie Simul Bass Stereo 295 amp, TransTrem and Digitech IPS 33B pedals, and occasionally a Dunlop Fuzz Wah with a Roger Mayer upgrade.

278  why ruin it: Keneally, October 2000.

279  Deconstructivist architecture: The Museum of Modern Art had a retrospective in summer 1988, showcasing Philip Johnson and Frank Gehry structures, among others; while he was dancing…spires: to Sarah Corbett-Baston, Trebuchet, 22 November 2014; close-voiced: Keneally, 2000; Tascam Porta One: Reverb interview, 25 July 2018; the only barrier is you: to Buckley, 384; West: Bowie probably didn’t see it on stage, as he was touring for much of its run in 1983, but a performance aired on Channel 4 in late 1984. It was part of an early Eighties vogue for London thugs: see Bob Hoskins’ mob boss in The Long Good Friday, Terence Stamp’s “grass” in The Hit and Alan Clarke’s hooligan study The Firm.

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280  Heaven’s in Here  At least one alternate take of “Heaven’s in Here” reportedly exists, possibly to appear on an upcoming Tin Machine box set?; an edited version (4:14) is on a US-only promo 12″/CD (EMI SPRO 4374). Recorded: all recording dates/locations for Tin Machine as per Gabrels to CO, August 2018; engineered: David Richards was an uncredited co-engineer on some of Tin Machine’s Mountain Studios recordings; live: the version on Oy Vey Baby was recorded at NYC’s Academy on 29 November 1991. The Oy Vey Baby performance features a two-minute-plus Gabrels jackplug feedback solo, while Bowie takes over stretches by cobbling together bits of songs, from Sly Stone’s “You Caught Me Smilin’” to Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home a Heartache” to Leonard Bernstein’s “Somewhere.”

281  fired Carlos: Guitar Moderne, 2015; Spiders from Mars: to Buckley, 383; exciting guitar player: Words and Music, January 1988; destroy everything: to Buckley, Mojo, February 2015; thunderous nihilistic sound: to Charles Shaar Murray, Q, October 1991; Tony Sales: while this meeting has been described as having occurred on the last night of the Glass Spider tour in the US in 1987, that’s inaccurate—Gabrels confirmed that it was in June 1988.

282  band as an obstacle: to Tony Horkins, International Musician, December 1991; crap: to Joe Levy, Spin, July 1989; audio verité thing: Buckley, 389. Despite Gabrels’ favoring newer-made guitars, for Tin Machine, he and Bowie also used older gear including a 1963 Stratocaster once owned by Marc Bolan and a Marshall 100-watt Super Lead amp Bowie had lying around in Switzerland. Gabrels and Kevin Armstrong also tried to limit their use of chorus and delay effects (Gabrels once claimed no guitar effects he used were post-1974); to have to shut up: group interview with Elliot Mintz, ca. mid-May 1989; out the windowbands are a nightmare: Buckley, 388.

283  you have to break it: International Musician, December 1991; Reeves went to school: to Matt Resnicott, Musician, September 1991; rock star entitlement: Mojo, February 2015; fucked-up sound: Starman, 344; everybody could improvise: pre-International Rock Awards TV interview, ca. late May 1989; five chords: the only harmonically “busy” songs are “I Can’t Read,” “Prisoner of Love” and “Baby Can Dance.” The majority of songs are in E major, A major, or D major; E major vamp: E-D-G-A (I-VIIb-IIIb-IV); deconstructionist R&B: quoted in Pegg, 417 (in specific reference to the mix of Oy Vey Baby); struggling element: Q, April 1990.

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284   If There Is Something   someone else’s material…really got off on it: Robin Eggar interview with DB, 9 August 1991 (reprinted in Egan, 200).

285  it was all heart: Musician, September 1991.

286 Country Bus Stop   debuted in New York on 14 June 1989. A version from Paris the same month appeared on the “Tin Machine” CD single. The band usually played “Bus Stop” in its two versions throughout the 1991-1992 tour; vaudeville: to Adrian Deevoy, Q, May 1989; about faith: Scott Muni radio interview, 29 May 1989 (put up by Paste two decades later). Excerpts of this nearly hour-long conversation, one of the best early Tin Machine group interviews, were distributed as “The Interview” for use as radio station promotions.

287 Amazing   David sang over it: Kevin Hillier interview for RockSat (Australian radio) with DB and Gabrels, ca. July 1989; for my girlfriend: Muni interview, 29 May 1989. Baby Can Dance   secondary to improvise on: 5 July 1989 radio interview.

288 silly song: Q, May 1989; Zippy the Pinhead: Muni interview, 29 May 1989.

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289  Tin Machine   Live: there are two reported performances of “Tin Machine” in the 1991 tour (Oslo and the Tower Theater in Philadelphia), as per fan setlists on the Teenage Wildlife website. For Philadelphia this appears to be inaccurate—“Tin Machine” isn’t on the full bootleg recording. The Oslo tape is only the first half of the show and thus doesn’t prove or disprove the TW setlist. But the likelihood that the band would do “Tin Machine” only once during the entire It’s My Life tour is a bit low; 6 September 1988: as per RG to CO; since the Konrads: Q, October 1991; Tin Machine is a band: Spin, July 1989; the David Bowie name: to Billy Donald, Music Dish, 21 May 2003; Unity Mitford: Muni interview, 29 May 1989.

290  from a song on the album: Muni interview, 29 May 1989; white noise, too racist: to Ives, 20 Feb 2017; facsimile bagpipes: Spin, July 1989; spews out Watchmen: most likely a reference to the Moore/Gibbons comic. No way DB didn’t know about it by 1988.

291  Run  As with “Sacrifice Yourself,” “Run” only appeared on cassette and CD versions of Tin Machine. But by 1989, vinyl sales had cratered and retailers were stopping sales of new LPs—the CD/cassette should be considered Tin Machine’s canonical version, and I wouldn’t call either track a ‘bonus’. Even the official sheet music book includes them; Kevin does what I pretend to do: TV interview (pre-International Music Awards) late May 1989; mixed feelings: 2017 interview on Davidbowieblackstar.it; controlling fuck: Kenneally, 2000.    Video Crime: referred to as “Video Crimes” on the LP cover and currently called that on Spotify.

292 Under the God  issued as a single in June 1989 (EMI USA MT 68 c/w “Sacrifice Yourself”); simplistic, naïve, radical: Melody Maker, 1 July 1989; this could get worse: to Tony Parsons, Arena, Spring/Summer 1993.

293  50 fascho-bands: per Rodden, Repainting the Little Red Schoolhouse, 199; Orange County: Muni interview, 29 May 1989; Brown: “Subcultures, Pop Music and Politics: Skinheads and “Nazi Rock” in England and Germany,” Journal of Social History 38(1): 157–79; it’s painful being a democracy…David Duke: to Mike Heck, ROC interview, ca. autumn 1991; Spearhead: Buckley, 254.

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294  Sacrifice Yourself    blurry harmonic structure: as “Sacrifice Yourself” appears to be in A major, the B chord is the secondary dominant: the V chord of A major’s V chord (E, in this case). Thus much of the song, in both verse and chorus, is a struggle between secondary dominant and dominant (B and E): a war between two great powers.

295  Prisoner of Love  the album’s third single in October 1989 (EMI MT 76 c/w live versions of “Baby Can Dance” and “Crack City”); the fact she is young: Muni interview, 29 May 1989.

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296  Working Class Hero   John was the poshest: Breakout, Aug./Sept. 1983; Dorian A minor: a folk modal key with two tonal centers, A minor and G major. When the Machine put the song in A minor, they used the dominant chord of Am, E minor, instead of the G major of Lennon’s original. There are other slight variations: the last refrain line is Am-G-D-Am, suggesting a slight shift to G major (although the D major is barely there, it’s just used as a passing chord on the way back to A minor). The original recording of “Hero” is a good example of Lennon’s indifference to time (it’s not quite in 3/4— more something like one bar of 9/8, 2 bars of 6/8) and studio perfection, as he’s often not intoning bass notes “properly”; writing get in the way of our playing: Hillier RockSat interview, ca. July 1989.

297   Crack City  a live version from Paris in July 1989 was on the 12″ version of “Prisoner of Love”; white pigs: NME, 15 July 1978; merchant seamen: Marcus Gray, Last Gang in Town, 260 (quoting a Sean O’Hagan interview with Strummer from the NME, 1988); trouble on legs: Muni interview, 29 May 1989; crack in the hotel!: Musician, September 1991.

298  crack babies myth: see, among a number of articles; gonna kill you Tin Man!: as per Ricki Rachtman, Yahoo! Music, 5 August 2015; 449 says: to David Wild, Rolling Stone, 31 October 1991; deep injured stuff: Joel Gausten interview with TS, October 2015; Happy Mondays: AFN Backstage TV interview, ca. September 1991; drug dirges: Q, May 1989; Hendrix: Bowie and Gabrels were fans of the recently-released (November 1988) Radio One sessions, a CD that brought the label Rykodisc to Bowie’s attention; Crack City is the reality: to Steffan Chirazi, RIP, December 1991; written for other writers: Melody Maker, 1 July 1989.

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299 I Can’t Read  The live version recorded on 25 June 1989, at La Cigale, Paris, is on the 12″ single version of “Tin Machine.”

300  Purpose of daily life: Rapido, 30 May 1989; drag your soul back into your body: to Robert Hilburn, LA Times, 4 April 1993;  cried in front of the band: to Tony Parsons, Arena, Autumn 1991; ice it up…facade: Musician, September 1991; my own desperations: to Tina Clarke, Elle, May 1990; topple off: Muni interview, 29 May 1989.

302  new version: debuted at the Bridge School Benefit in California in October 1996; cut-ups…words in concrete: David Bowie Story, 1993. Maggie’s Farm   more details on the 1989 tour herenot gonna be a circus…playing for us: Muni interview, 29 May 1989; Prince and the Pauper: LA Times, 16 June 1989. There’s a wonderful story that Bowie was handing out flyers in the Village on the day of the first NYC gig.

303 Shakin’ All Over   A live version from Paris in June 1989 was on the “Prisoner of Love” E.P., while a 1991 Hamburg recording was on the ambitiously-titled 1993 compilation Best of Grunge Rock. Live: in 1991-92, it was often part of medleys in the middle of “Heaven’s In Here.” Bowie reconnected with his old drummer, John Cambridge, at a Bradford gig on 2 July 1989. Cambridge said he told Bowie the lyric to “Shakin’ All Over,” which Bowie claimed he’d forgotten, despite having sung it the night before.    Baby Universal    Recorded: all Tin Machine II dates/locations per Gabrels to CO, August 2018.

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304  disgrace: The reviewer, Jon Wilde (or someone claiming to be him), said in a 2012 Guardian comment thread that he’d been told Bowie had wept when he read the review. This possibly wasn’t an exaggeration—several people who knew Bowie over the years said that he took bad reviews from the UK particularly hard; Spin: Jonathan Bernstein, September 1991; meaningless lyric…sales bear out our assessment: Bill Wyman, Entertainment Weekly, 6 September 1991; Michael Jackson money: to Joel Gausten, 2000; start recording the next album tomorrowimmediately once this tour’s over: London press conference, 23 January 1990. He told the BBC’s Simon Bates that Tin Machine had cut 25 tracks in Sydney (late January 1990 TV interview).

305   excuses to make noise: Musician, September 1991; sensitively aggressive: 23 January 1990 press conference; eager to solidify the band: Q, April 1990; guitar has a world of sounds: International Musician, December 1991; keep them interested: Musician, September 1991; modal chromaticism: for example, if a song was in E major, Gabrels could use E Phrygian, a scale that would let him play “notes that shouldn’t be there” (say, an F instead of the “correct” F-sharp); his own obstacles: International Musician, December 1991.

306   almost like Texas: to Joy Williams, Tournye, 1991.

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307  Sorry    let’s talk about it, y’know?…my own addictions: RIP, December 1991.

308  Alomar: Buckley, 412; Schermerhorn: Starman, 351; personal problems…carry on: Uncut, October 1999; we just couldn’t cope: Golden Years: The David Bowie Story, 2000.    Betty Wrong Two additional versions circulate on bootleg: one sounds like a slightly-different mix of the released track. The other is an instrumental taken at a slower pace, with Gabrels still working out solo ideas.

309  Otis Rush…hardest to hear: Musician, September 1991.   Needles on the Beach  Bondi Beach: the beach was in great neglect at the time, with swimmers having to contend with raw sewage as well as syringes. By the late 2000s, it had been cleaned up and added to Australia’s National Heritage List.

311  Shopping for Girls   Recorded: Kevin Armstrong’s credited appearance on piano suggests at least backing tracks were cut during Tin Machine sessions; Kham Suk: Christian Science Monitor, 30 June 1987. Terry co-wrote the series with Kristin Helmore; collectively autobiographical: RIP, December 1991; fingerwagging about it: Musician, September 1991.

312    fairly fucking heavy: RIP, December 1991; narrator: a suggestion of Annie McDuffie; lyric: the odd line that opens the second verse (“a small black someone jumps over the crazy white guard”) is a play on the English pangram (“the quick fox jumps over the lazy dog”).  Amlapura    Bowie cut an Indonesian vocal, a version found on the B-side on the 12″ single of “You Belong In Rock n’ Roll,” and so added another language to his tally of Italian, French, German, and Spanish vocals (see the “Seven Years in Tibet” note). Alternate takes of “Amlapura” circulate—an instrumental and three other takes with more prominent drums, guitar and slightly different phrasing on vocals. A version from Hamburg, 24 October 1991, is on the video version of Oy Vey Baby.

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313   I particularly love…200 years ago: Japanese TV interview, February 1992; ashes scattered: as per a New York Times report on his will (“David Bowie’s Will Splits Estate Said to Be Worth $100 Million,” 29 January 2016), he’d wanted his body shipped to Bali to be cremated. As that was impractical, he was cremated in New Jersey on 12 January 2016, according to his death certificate.

314  Stateside   American dream: from the 25 July 1990 concert at the Niagara Falls Convention Center. Bowie continued with “all you got left is an Uzi gun and a crack haze. Everything falling to shit. Inner city blues. So what do you get from the government? You get the blues.” You Can’t Talk   Four alternate takes circulate on bootleg. One sounds like an early-stage version, going at a slower tempo, with Bowie trying out phrases. The others are close to the released track, with minor differences. For example, the break after “call you over under out” (@ 2:25) is followed by, in various takes, silence, hi-hat, or a guitar panned left-to-right.

315   Big Hurt  considered a strong enough track that it was performed on Arsenio Hall and weighed as a possible title track. Its BBC recording was released in October 1991 as a B-side of the 12″ “Baby Universal”; you serve two masters: Musician, September 1991.

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316  It’s Tough   The most “finished”-sounding circulating version of “Tough” reportedly comes from an early promo CD of Tin Machine II, showing how late in the day its omission was. Presumably it will appear in a Tin Machine box set.

317 You Belong in Rock ‘n Roll   issued as a single in August 1991 (LONCD 305, c/w “Amlapura (Indonesian version), UK #33). There was also a limited-edition single in a metal box—to produce it, Victory had to purchase used tins from the US Navy. A version from Chicago, 7 December 1991, closes Oy Vey Baby; Double Jeu: the date often cited for this appearance–21 September 1991– doesn’t seem to be accurate, as the band was in the US until at least mid-September, when Bowie also shot his scenes for Twin Peaks in California (it’s far more likely to have been in late October, when the band was touring Europe and doing other promotional spots on TV). I chose 27 October because it was the only off day in that period—the Paris show was 30 October 1991; half a chord progression: “You Belong” is mostly C major and G major; “With or Without You” is a cycling C-G-Am-F; vibrators: Gabrels told Musician that his touring vibrators were “a 4″ Ladyfinger and an 8″ variable speed, with a Panasonic electric razor as backup.”

318   talking about the feelings…but abandon from what: to Alan di Perna, Creem, September 1991; basically a bass song…against the bridge: Mike Heck ROC interview, ca. late 1991.

319  Goodbye Mr. Ed  I’d love it if Bowie had found the title in a headline in the 16 October 1990 Weekly World News; myth land to me: Cracked Actor; now I have the knowledge: RIP, December 1991; Fifties America: Musician, Sept. 1991.

320 tuning up thingjust a rhythm track: Tournye, 1991.

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321 Pretty Pink Rose   An alternate mix appears on the promo CD single: it’s about thirty seconds shorter, has less lead guitar, and omits the second verse. Belew also issued an instrumental mix on his 2007 download Dust; CDs: “CDs Overtake LPs for First Time, Industry Says,” AP, 26 January 1989. Until 1993, the US market leader was the cassette— it was cheaper and most cars didn’t have CD players yet. The transition happened earlier in the UK: by 1990, CDs sold more than tapes; RCA: The first Bowie CD reissues were in February 1985, with some exceptions—David Live and Ziggy Stardust: The Motion Picture weren’t issued and Stage was only available in the UK and Europe. The RCA CDs were taken from masters EQ’d for cassette, not from the original tapes. By contrast, with the exception of a few outtakes, all Ryko CDs were taken from the original masters. Yet some audiophiles still assert that the RCAs are the best-sounding Bowie CDs. Anytime a Bowie album gets a new issue, someone will, without fail, judge it against its RCA CD and find it wanting; rights were expiring: Rougvie goes into the creation of Sound + Vision and the reissues on his blog, which dispels a great many myths; most wanted on CD: Billboard, 10 September 1988; Ryko: because the label had few international connections at the time, EMI released the reissues in the UK and Europe; bonus tracks: a complete list of the Rykos can be found on Discogs.

322   writing at night: Belew, blog entry, 6 September 2007; oh gawd…quite what to do…half-time…right hand fingers: Belew blog, 16 September 2007. It’s possible “I Pray, Ole” was an early version of what became “Pretty Pink Rose,” as the closing “take me to the heart, to the heart, to the heart” melody also works over parts of “Ole.”

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324 Gunman  added a harmony note…rhythm guitars: Belew blog, 8 September 2007You and I and George  develop new material: interview with the BBC’s Simon Bates, late January 1990; coffer replenishment: for example, Bowie grossed $927,124 on his 6 March 1990 show in Montreal, filling 34,687 seats and earning more than comparable acts playing to much larger crowds, as per Billboard, 24 March 1990.

325   instrumentation of a four-piece band: Belew blog, 14 September 2007; for a particular generation…hope it won’t show…never Major Tom again: Q, April 1990; absolutely loathe Young Americans: Rolling Stone, 31 October 1991; wasn’t happy: Spitz, 348; Fox eating…turned off live keyboard: Buckley, 403.

326  fucking nightmare: titled the bootleg of the show!, 8 September 1990; Kelly: the song is only credited as “Arr. Kenton” on the album. I’ve credited it to Kelly, as the song is certainly not “trad.,” as some resources have claimed.

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327  One Shot   Smooth, sax-like: Musician, September 1991.

329 Debaser  Mass of screaming flesh: ca. 1999 Bowie interview, filmed for Channel Four’s Pixies documentary Gouge (2002); what it represents: to Sisario, Doolittle, 77; Chien Andalou: or Purple Rain, as the original refrain lyric was “shed, Apollonia!,” a reference to Apollonia’s nude scene in that film.  Go Now    Oy Vey, Baby: This live album, issued in July 1992, was the most unloved LP in the Bowie catalog since the Sixties, failing to chart in the US or UK upon release. Composed of tracks from Chicago, Boston, New York, Tokyo and Sapporo gigs, it’s a good document of a band that was still putting on tight shows until the end. “Amazing,” from Chicago, is superior to the studio version; the Tokyo “Goodbye Mr. Ed” has Bowie in fine voice. The title, a jibe at the then-latest U2 album, didn’t help sales, nor perhaps did the inclusion of an eight-minute “Stateside.” The mix was greatly the work of Gabrels, who later said it was his favorite Tin Machine album. The video release (also out of print) is a different beast, solely documenting a 24 October 1991 show in Hamburg.

330  fair amount of improvisation…don’t want that feeling at all: Creem, September 1991; nothing noble: Chicago Tribune, 9 December 1991; small room packed with people: to Kot, Chicago Tribune, 11 June 2002; simply misinformation: Reevz.net, ca. 2002; three albums, possibly…once it starts to feel like a job: to Roger Catlin, Hartford Courant, 24 November 1991.

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Chapter Eleven: Tomorrow Isn’t Promised (1998-2000)

December 17, 2018

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Epigraphs   Eno: to Mark Sinker, The Wire, 1992; Pyzik: in Helibo Seyoman.

442  Trying to Get to Heaven  it appeared on a Virgin promo CD-R that also had a Danny Saber remix of “Fun” (photographic evidence on this Illustrated DB thread); Time Out of Mind: for instance, it topped OK Computer in the Village Voice “Pazz & Jop” critics poll of 1997; nice break in the cycle: Plati, on his website’s message board (reprinted on Teenage Wildlife); should just give up: to Michael Kimmelman, NY Times, 14 June 1998; Tim Curry: said to young CO at a press junket in October 1993. Curry was the villain in a now-forgotten remake of The Three Musketeers, and was talking about his performance in that film in particular.

443  Battle Hymn  As Bowie’s only singing the chorus, he could be singing “John Brown’s Body,” the song that “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was adapted from. But as his character Sikora looks as if he’s wearing a variant of a Confederate uniform, it would be odd if he was singing the Union marching song. Perhaps he’s doing so ironically; perhaps this is an alternate Earth where the Confederacy won; perhaps (here’s a guess) no one involved in the film had a clue about this issue; first release: it didn’t appear in the US until was issued, under the title Gunslinger’s Revenge, as a DVD in 2005.

444  Suite for a Foggy Day  apparently its official title, though the Red Hot + Rhapsody CD just uses the Gershwin title, which I also use as the primary way to identify this track; make it very Badalamenti: East Village Radio interview, ca. March 2014; transcription by Pieter Dom, 13 January 2016. There’s of course the story that Bono wanted to do this song but Badalamenti had already booked DB—I didn’t mention it in this essay because it seemed like the story had been recounted by 200 websites in the months after Bowie’s death, so I figured you didn’t need reminding.

445   Safe  oddly difficult to determine when exactly it was offered to BowieNetters. Its first physical release was on the “Everyone Says ‘Hi’” CD single, issued on 16 September 2002; a real old woman: The David Bowie Story, 1993; three hours reminiscing: Billboard, 26 September 1998. The reunion had begun a year or so before, but had a pause when Bowie apparently got irked with Visconti talking to Mojo in 1997 about how he and Mick Ronson had been essentially co-composers of some of The Man Who Sold the World; far beyond my wildest dreams…doesn’t fit in: MTV News, 9 October 1998.

446  objective piece: to Stuart Clark, Hot Press, 10 November 1999; more internal…world really is: to Chris Norriss, Spin, November 1999. Responding to a fan query on a web-chat on BowieNet (27 April 1999), Bowie said:

At the time of Ziggy, there was so 
   much more going on in my head than just the idea 
   of a new synthetic rock star
<David\bBowie> that I want to fully explore all the 
   fragments that made up in my own mind the Ziggy 
   world.
<David\bBowie> And hopefully I'll be able to do 
   quite a complex overview in 2002.
<David\bBowie> And it will have great shoes...
<hj> 28BebeBuell says:rnSpeaking of Ziggy will the 
   1980 Floor Show ever see the light of day again??
<David\bBowie> What a charming name, Bebe...
<David\bBowie> I'm very keen to try and get this 
   released and I would like to combine it with 
   outtakes from that night.
<David\bBowie> It should be this century...maybe 
   next century, but we've all got patience haven't 
   we?

info-packed maps: Hot Press, 10 November 1999; Ziggy’s parents perspective: shown in a plot sketch included in the David Bowie Is exhibit; I’ve found bits and pieces…keeping the sound of the material in the period: Radio One “The Net” interview, 23 July 1998 (Ziggy Stardust Companion is a good source for more details about the ‘Ziggy 2002’ project.)

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447 Velvet Goldmine:  Haynes sent Bowie an early version of the script and asked to use seven songs (“All the Young Dudes,” “Sweet Thing,” “Lady Stardust,” “Moonage Daydream,” Bowie’s cover of “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” “Lady Grinning Soul,” and the title track). Despite lobbying by Michael Stipe and Kim Gordon, Bowie denied Haynes permission. “When I saw the film I thought the best thing about it was the gay scenes, the only successful part of the film, frankly. The film didn’t understand how innocent everyone was then about what they were getting into Also there was a lot more shopping,” Bowie said to Andrew Davies (The Big Issue, 11-17 January 1999); so ecstatic about Tommy Stone: Haynes, conversation with Julia Leyda, 29 March 2012; got really nervous: Jones, 379.

448  running like fuck from that one…slack-arsed script: to Michael Dwyer, Rolling Stone (Australia), June 2002.  Mother   it’s unclear whatever happened to this Lennon tribute album, still unreleased as of this writing. You’d think at some point, tracks recorded for it would have come out, as seemingly everything else Lennon-related has; lonely little kid: quoted in Jonathan Cott’s Days That I’ll Remember; journalist saw him: Martin Hayman, Rock, 8 October 1973. “At the corner of the settee nearest the fire…sits a familiar figure, eyes half closed, head bowed, nodding gently, almost imperceptibly, to the pain and anger of John Lennon’s “Mother” growling out of a loudspeaker at each corner of the spacious hunting lodge room…you might think he was falling asleep were it not for the slight tightening of the eyebrowless forehead at the compelling anguish of the shrieking fade-out.”

449  stepping stone: to Jérome Soligny, Rock et Folk, December 1998; first attempts at manipulating music in a computer: Visconti message to Bowie Wonderworld, ca. September 2006 (the year I believe “Mother” was bootlegged).

450  20th Century Boy    we were in key at least: Melody Maker, 17 April 1999; old Judy Garland thing: Gay Times, December 1998.

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451  New Angels of Promise The Omikron: The Nomad Soul version appeared on the 2004 ‘hours…’ 2-CD reissue.  BowieNet: users were charged $20 a month to use it as their internet service provider ($6 for a no-frills subscription). After four months of operation, it was reportedly valued at $500 million (as per Time Out, December 1998), though Bowie was skeptical about how much he really was earning from it: “I can’t even buy a packet of cigarettes on the proceeds from this fucking thing…There is no money in what we do. It’s like being in the silent movies”; Subeez Café: 30 September 1998 BowieNet web chat. I’m being mean in choosing these particular questions—there were some funny and perceptive ones, too; almost metaphysicalon the cusp of something: BBC2 Newsnight, 3 December 1999.

452  once everyone can sample…no longer church: Bowie, chat on Eden.vmg.co.uk, 2 February 2000. Interviewed by Yahoo! Internet Life in 1999, he predicted music would soon be “on tap” through computers like water. But touchingly, he still imagined that record stores would remain central to music consumption, predicting that clerks would download tracks for you from some licensed database. “You go in and you’d ask the assistant for the menu and you choose exactly what tracks you want. And then they’ll be burned into a CD—if you’re that old-fashioned—or put onto a player”; bit Bond Street: Mojo, October 1994; core competencies: Financial Times, 26 January 2000; Bowie bonds: among the more misunderstood things that Bowie was ever involved in. He didn’t “go public,” he didn’t put himself on the stock market, fans almost certainly couldn’t have bought them, etc. For more, see the blog post; Bowie’s trading desk: to Forbes, 4 March 2000 (“People don’t wake up in the morning and say, ‘Gosh, I’m really turned on by my bank,’ says Goodale, but he and Bowie didn’t see why something that is useful, like online banking, couldn’t also be sexy and fun.”) To Peter Paphides (Time Out, December 1998), Bowie said “when I was a kid, music was the fascinating alternative future. But now it’s just another career choice such as banking or being a travel rep”; BowieBanc: run by USABancShares.com Inc. It’s worth briefly recounting the history of this company. In 1887, the Peoples Thrift Savings Bank was founded, which thriftily endured for a century. Then in 1995 an investment banker named Kenneth Tepper bought it, renamed it BankPhiladelphia (mashed/multi-capitalized bank names were in vogue), bought other local banks and merged their operations, took this company public, renamed it again to USABancShares, which increased its valuation from $18 million to $350 million in four years. Its internet bank division launched in 1999, of which BowieBanc was the first big venture. Bowie had no exposure to USABancShares, put up no capital, and was paid for the use of his name and image. So he was possibly the only person left unscathed from the venture, which had a mere 1,500 depositors by mid-2000 and lost $9.7 million that year. Tepper resigned in March 2001; the bank was delisted by Nasdaq and traded for a dime a share (“the expectations on us and on technology in general were unrealistic,” Tepper told the Philadelphia Business Journal (1 April 2002—much of the above comes from various Philadelphia Business Journal articles of the period).) USABancShares was soon sold to a company run by its former chief financial officer, which in turn went out of business in 2017; Zysblat: FT, 26 January 2000.

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453   Boz as a patchwork quilt: Game Center, 25 October 1999; plenty of strip clubs: New Zealand Herald, 26 June 1999.

454  man does not hear: Herron, Call of the Cross, “The Divine Method of Culture,” 74.

455 Jahangir labeled “Jangir” on the Omikron game booklet, so I threw in both names.

456  Survive first distributed on a promo giveaway CD included with the 8-14 September 1999 issue of Les Inrockuptibles. It was also a 2-CD single (Virgin 7243 8 96486 0 7, 7243 8 96487 0 6) released on 17 January 2000, which included Marius de Vries’ mix, the Walter Stern-directed video clip and a live performance of the song from the Elysée Montmartre, 14 October 1999.

457  composed throughout the year: descriptions of the ‘hours’ composing/recording process as per Gabrels to CO, August 2018; window of opportunity was there: Buckley, 463; stripped-down affair…music for Omikron: Plati interview with Trynka, ca. late 2000s; see what will come out of it: Rock et Folk, December 1998. “Reeves Gabrels and I have written a lot in during the last few months…We compose for the pleasure and our spectrum is wide, between purely electronic music and acoustic songs.”

458  had my druthers, not put out an album…how I tend to think: to Robert Phoenix, Dirt, 5 October 1999; full album in London: Gabrels to CO, August 2018; Diamond Dogs quality…fretless bass: Ives interview, 20 February 2017; looking where songs would land: Trynka interview, ca. late 2000s.

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459 just like a bloke: Chris Roberts, DB interview tape for Uncut, 29 July 1999; circle of friends…feel claustrophobic to me: Ives interview, 20 February 2017; evolves as an artist…why he’s not old: David Bowie Story, 1993; wrinkled, shaggy-haired: AP, 9 September 1999; every cliché in the book…poignant, sad life: to Jim Sullivan, Boston Globe, 9 February 1997.

460  people get mellow…aren’t true to their lives: to Stuart Maconie, NME, 13 September 1991; flounder a little…when they were younger: to Gil Kaufman, ATN, October 1999; living a lie or mistake: Liquid Love, 55; boy was the flame dead: Roberts tape, 29 July 1999.

461 Something in the Air   The American Psycho remix appeared, unsurprisingly, on the soundtrack of Mary Harron’s 2000 film and was later collected on the 2004 ‘hours…’ reissue.

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462  terrible conflict…it’s terrible: ATN, October 1999; present sensibility…so has the future: Roberts tape, 29 July 1999; pairs of chords: both verse and refrain open by shuttling between tonic and flatted VII chords (so D to C in the verse, A to G in the chorus), darken midway through with a run of minor chords and each closes by setting up the opposing key (so the verse ends with a G that the A major opening of the chorus resolves; the refrain just sinks back to D); faux novelist: ATN, October 1999; Peacock: to Bill Reynolds, Crawdaddy, April 1989. Bowie had been a fan since the early Seventies, having his Astronettes record Peacock’s “Seven Days” in 1973, and had apparently wanted to work with Peacock on what became ‘hours…’ But as with Bowie’s oft-expressed wish to work with Glenn Branca, the collaboration never came to be.

464 Brilliant Adventure    luverly instrumental: DB, web-chat on BowieNet, 4 July 1999; something very odd came from all this: Bowie, 24 August 1998 web journal entry.

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465   Thursday’s Child   BowieNet members voted on the single mix: both the “Radio Edit” (their choice) and the “Rock Mix” (guitars trace over the synths; Bowie lead vocal sounds like it’s being routed through a metal tube; gargle-orgasm-drum fill break) appeared on the UK/EU CD single; a “Hip Hop Mix” was never released. A longer (by ten seconds) version is in Omikron: The Nomad Soul: this version, titled the “Omikron Slower (sic) Version” was included on the 2004 reissue, as was the Rock Mix; Eartha Kitt:  in addition to titling her autobiography, Thursday’s Child was also one of the Kitt LPs released in Britain in the Fifties; prediction rhyme: altered during the 19th Century, perhaps to bring it more in line with Christianity, as Friday was now “full of woe” and Sunday got some of Thursday’s glory.

466  teeth-grinding get it done guy: Roberts tape, 29 July 1999; her friends rather than grown-ups: Buckley, 471.

467  We All Go Through   faux-psychedelic: DB on BowieNet, 27 July 1999; a series of transitions without scenes: Momus, 10 January 2014.

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468  Seven  the album’s third single, 17 July 2000 (Virgin 7243 8 96928 2 2, UK #32), a CD that included the DeVries Mix, the “demo,” the album version, a live version from the Kit Kat Club, NYC (19 November 1999; another live recording is on the “Survive” single) and Beck Mix #1. All but the live version were included (along with Beck Mix #2) on the 2004 ‘hours’ reissue; song of nowness: VH1 Storytellers performance, 23 August 1999; seven days to live…the present is the place to be: to David Quantick, Q, October 1999; each day to be really good…until death strikes: to Charlie Rose, 31 March 1998; only the person the greatest number of people believe I am: Q, October 1999.

469 Pretty Things Going to Hell a different mix (notable mostly for the occasional sub-Nine Inch Nails loop) was issued on 24 August 1999 on the Stigmata soundtrack, though oddly another mix (jacked up in tempo) was used in the actual film (both tracks are on the 2004 reissue of ‘hours…’). The Omikron: Nomad Soul “performance” is the Stigmata soundtrack version. An edit of the album version was issued as a lead-off single in Japan and Australia, and as a promo-only CD single in the US. A live NYC performance (from the Kit Kat Club, 19 November 1999) is on the “Seven” single; something more rambunctious: ATN, October 1999; their day is numbered…very serious little world: Roberts tape, 29 July 1999.

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470   I wrote a song about stand-up: ATN, October 1999; low ugly simple perfect: to Buckley, 472.  We Shall Go to Town   Confusing its B-sides, Virgin listed the track as “We Shall All Go to Town” on the CD single; key track…less jolly than Thursday’s Child: Ives interview, 20 February 2017.

471  done in a heartbeat…went to town as it were: Plati to CO, April 2016.

473  What’s Really Happening   very soul searching: Roberts tape, 29 July 1999; impertinent, scanned well: ZDTV interview, shot at the overdub session, aired 14 June 1999; color commentary: BowieNet transcript from 24 May 1999.

474 Jewel    pursuit of the new…diverging from what I needed: Buckley, 476. That said, Gabrels soon took his own traditionalist turn. For his Rockonica, he went analog. “Having spent the previous six years using Logic/Pro Tools on everything I wrote or produced…I was pretty tired of the “man alone in front of a computer” thing. In fact, that whole treated-drum-loop-electronic-rock-band-vibe that I was into in the middle of the last decade seemed soooo tired out to me,” he told Music Dish. “While you can’t fault the technology (computers don’t make boring music, people do), I just felt like to record digitally would have been so very, very nineties.”; becoming too VH1…imposing my will: to Kenneally, October 2000 “Noneradio” interview; drug myself to death: to Trynka, Starman, 376; workload got heavier: to Spitz, 384.

475  descriptions of the “Jewel” session via RG to CO, August 2018, and Bowie’s web journal entries, 1998-1999. Sector Z    overriding feature: Visconti, Brooklyn Boy, 342; we freaked out: Gutter to CO, February 2014 (source of recording details in this entry). Gutter once played a prank on Visconti in which he called him up pretending to be Bowie, not knowing that Bowie and Visconti were now regularly talking to each other.

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476  Hole in the Ground  As Toy, as of this book’s publication, is still a bootleg, it couldn’t appear in the Discography (well, it could have, I suppose). The sequence of the 2011 leak, which has not been verified as the intended release sequence, is: Uncle Floyd*/Afraid*/Baby Loves That Way/ I Dig Everything*/ Conversation Piece/ Let Me Sleep Beside You/ Your Turn to Drive (Toy)/ Hole in the Ground*/ Shadow Man/ In the Heat of the Morning*/ You’ve Got a Habit of Leaving/ Silly Boy Blue*/ Liza Jane*/ London Boys. (* = tracks or mixes still unreleased); Anthony Newley stuff: Q, April 1990.

477  invigorated sense of purpose: ATN, April 1997; re-recording some early songs: Bowie web journal, 29 October 1998; Up Date I: Bowie web journal, 3 January 2000; waste the energy of a show-honed band…sing till my tits drop off: Bowie journal, printed in Time Out, 21-28 June 2000; weren’t out to reduplicate original tracks: Plati essay for The Voyeur, April-Sept. 2002.

478  belting his brains out: to Dan LeRoy, Greatest Music Never Sold, 42.

479  her vibe would be perfect…arsenal of eccentric instruments…beg it to stay together: Plati, Voyeur, Aug.-Sept. 2002; cool drones, like a John Cale vibe: Germano to LeRoy, 47; hard to believe they were written so long ago…in the Sixties: 28 September 2000 Bowie web journal.

480  Pictures of Lily   glam version of Crazy Horse: Plati web journal, 1 November 2000.

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481 Afraid   until he had the goods: LeRoy, 53; interesting deceit: quoted in Pegg, 15.

482 everything will be alright: Bowie web journal, 23 May 2002.

483 The Uncle Floyd Show: the life of Floyd Vivino and the Uncle Floyd Show comes from a number of sources including Amy Krakow’s profile for New York (21 January 1980), Jack Silbert’s NY Times interview with Vivino (8 December 2002) and most of all Beth Knobel’s profile, written as the show entered syndication, for the Columbia Daily Spectator (21 July 1982). Other details are from a long-shuttered website run by Floyd Show alum “Muggsy” (http://archive.is/I6boc); show’s production values: One example of the show’s rhythms: R. Stevie Moore is playing “Sit Down” on the Uncle Floyd Show in 1980. After the performance, Uncle Floyd greets each member of the band. The guitarist blankly says that his guitar is wrapped in a sheet of newspaper from the day he was born (“well, that’s different,” Floyd says). Floyd vaguely insults the bassist, while the drummer is hostile (“can you shake my hand at least? Don’t you wanna meet me?”). Throughout Floyd is calm, unruffled, a king; Bones and Oogie: “If you didn’t know about Uncle Floyd, you’d think the characters in the song were Bowie characters,” Bowie introducing “Slip Away” on A&E, 23 June 2002; living room in New Jersey: Bowie web journal, 23 May 2002.

484  doing a song about me: NY Times, 8 December 2002; semi out of tune piano: Plati web journal, 1 November 2000; Mark Ryden painting: LeRoy, 42.

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485  Toy is finished and ready to go: BowieNet chat, 4 June 2001; complicated scheduling negotiations: BowieNet, 4 July 2001; new material over Toy: BowieNet, 29 October 2001; Bowie would never talk about it: LeRoy, 60; new writing takes precedence: quoted in Pegg, 403.

486  so much more haunting: LeRoy, 55; a nicer time…anxiously into the future: Rolling Stone, June 2002.

487 Isn’t It Evening  one street guy in there: to Jeff Slate, Music Radar, 26 February 2013; almost like making a demo: to Gerry Galipault, Pause and Play, 9 December 2003; doing a little something: Billboard, 31 December 2003; seven rough pieces: to Lisa Sharken, Vintage Guitar, March 2004; sat around for a long time…just had a thing: Plati to CO, April 2016.

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488 Nature Boy   resurrect the audience: to Harvey Kubernick, 2006 (collected in Kubernick’s Hollywood Shack Job); eden ahbez: Born George Alexander Aberle, in Brooklyn, 1908. We first meet him in Los Angeles in 1947, failing to get backstage at a Nat King Cole concert at the Lincoln Theater. He gave Cole’s manager a soiled, rolled-up score for “Nature Boy.” Cole was taken with it, but the “eden ahbez” on the score had no known address (ahbez said only God was entitled to capital letters). After scouring the city, Capitol executives (at least according to PR legend) found him camped underneath an “L” of the Hollywood sign. By summer 1948, Cole’s “Nature Boy” was a #1 pop hit, soon covered by Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra. Cast by reporters as the embodiment of his song, ahbez was an ur-hippie, promoting vegetarianism, outdoor living, “Eastern” philosophies, and a live-off-the-land-or-someone’s-couch ethos. (In the Sixties, he hung out with Donovan, had his songs recorded by Grace Slick and attended Beach Boys Smile sessions; R. Crumb’s “Mr. Natural” was partially based on him). He stayed in California for the rest of his life, spending his last years working on a book and album, neither of which he finished. He died at 86, in 1995. (Sources include Ted Gioia’s entry on “Nature Boy” in The Jazz Standards; the marvelous blog dedicated to ahbez, “Eden’s Island“; a profile of ahbez for Life, 10 May 1948; and Brian Chidester’s “Eden Ahbez: The Hippie Forefather’s Final Statement to the World,” LA Weekly, 18 February 2014.)

489  Yiddish pop song: “Nature Boy” is just two 16-bar verses, with slight harmonic and melodic differences between the two. Its D minor progression has a chromatic descending bassline for the boy’s roam over land and sea in the middle bars and feints at a shift to A major at the end of each verse. 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). Scrapping ahbez’s waltz meter for a free rubato, Cole leisurely scaled ahbez’s wide intervals (like the octave leap-and-fall of “there WAS a boy”); Luhrmann: to Jones, 418-420.