We won’t be getting to “Sue (Or In a Season of Crime)” on the blog until late in summer 2015, most likely. So here’s a place to record for your first impressions, once the song debuts tomorrow on Guy Garvey’s Finest Hour at 2 PM UK time.
Thanks all, for your patience. We’re done, and this beast is off to its publisher. Hope to have a new post up either later this week or early next.
Well, I’d wanted to get another post out but in all honesty, I cannot do anything else until I finally finish this manuscript. I go on vacation the week of July 7, so it’s got to be done by then, because I just want to finally finish Wolf Hall and read some Kieron Gillen comics and not think about Bowie that week.
So: last leg. Bear with me, and once this is over, we’ll get back to a weekly or even a semi-weekly (imagine!) pace.
And if you’ve a yen to talk about something Bowie, talk about some of the er, utter absolute classic Bowie songs that have like 10 bloody comments on them!
Have at it. See you on the other side. I think you’re going to like this book.
Top: 1915 Irish Great War propaganda poster, via WWI Propaganda Posters.
Just a quick note: the blog’s taking a break until around May 2 or so. So have a happy rest-of-April.
I’m going to be in Seattle for the EMP’s 2014 Pop Conference, where I’ll be offering “Liza Jane: a Mongrel’s Ramble Through the 20th Century” on Saturday 26 April, at 10:45 AM (unfortunately, I’m scheduled directly against a friend’s presentation that I was quite looking forward to hearing: such are the minor cruelties of life).
This presentation is an elephantine version of the first entry of the book. It’s a recounting of the odd, twisted history of the song “Liza Jane” or “Little Liza Jane,” a tale whose supporting actors include Bowie, Huey “Piano” Smith, Fats Domino, Edward Everett Hale, the Countess Ada de Lachau, Nina Simone, Jean Toomer, Stepin Fetchit, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Ruth St. Denis, Alan Lomax, Zora Neale Hurston, Duane Eddy and Levon Helm, among others.
Looking forward to finally digging into Heathen once I get back. All best.
Plus (for those attending):
Well, I’d hoped to get through one more song before the new year but it’s likely not going to happen. Christmas has crept upon us rather without warning. This is a suitable end to the slowest-paced year of this blog’s short life. Where in fleeter days, I made it through The Man Who Sold the World through the end of Station to Station in a year, in 2013 I made it from Leon/Outside through…about half of ‘Hours.’ The main culprit has been this brick of pages as shown here, which should be ready for public consumption fairly soon.
Please have a fine holiday and thanks for sticking around. I greatly appreciate, as always, all commenters and anyone who’s had a kind word to say about this project (whose final year could be 2014—we’ll see how it goes. If Bowie puts out another album……)
It’s going to take a while to write the next entry, a baggy thing that has to cover all of Bowie’s Internet and video game antics in the late Nineties. In the meantime, here’s something I’ve meant to ask readers for a while.
“Don’t Be Afraid” (aka “Oh Darling”) is one of the big question marks of the Bowie outtakes “canon.” Included on a number of bootlegs and assigned to the confusing period of early-mid 1971, when Bowie was grinding out songs under assumed names and with variety of bands and singers (see “Rupert the Riley,” “Looking for a Friend,” “Man in the Middle“), “Don’t Be Afraid” remains a shaky addition to Bowie’s oeuvre. In his latest book revision, Nicholas Pegg argues that the “balance of evidence suggests that ‘Don’t Be Afraid’ should be filed…as a piece of 1971 apocrypha.”
The best argument for “Afraid” being apocryphal is that for a long time the track was classed with “Something Happens,” another alleged 1971 bootleg. (The legend is that the tape of “Afraid” came from an American radio interview in early 1972, which seems baffling even if the track is a legitimate Bowie song.) Then in 2008, the illustrated DB board conclusively proved that “Something Happens” was actually a Colin Blunstone song called “Something Happens When You Touch Me,” just slowed down and murked up. So the odds that “Don’t Be Afraid” has a similar secret origin are substantial.
That said, no one has yet to come up with any competing theory as to where the track came from. And there were a lot of Bowie demos cut at Radio Luxembourg’s studio in 1971. The singer is obviously not Bowie, and the players aren’t Mick Ronson and the rest of the Spiders. They could be, however, Mickey King (singer of “Rupert”) and the Arnold Corns crew of Mark Pritchett et al.
I still don’t know whether, in my book, to dump this song in the “apocrypha” appendix or to include it in the chapter with the rest of the Ziggy Stardust/ Hunky Dory songs. So now’s your chance to vote on the canon: is this a Bowie song or no?
[P.S.: July 2014: it’s not! It’s a demo by the UK prog/metal band Czar–see comments]
Top: Bowie’s first night in America, January 1971.
All right, it’s streaming now, so what’s the point of waiting, really? Plus I’ve been buried in work, and the next post is going to be one of the epics, so why not talk about the new Bowie album?
I won’t be getting to the songs on The Next Day until spring 2014. However, in the hopes of preventing discussion of the new album from derailing/drowning other posts, please use this post as an open thread to say what you think about the new one.
A word on civility. I’ve rarely had to ban anyone or delete posts, for which I’m grateful. However, this is a new album, there’s a lot of media hype and there are going to be a lot of strong opinions about it: excitement/disappointment/bemusement/bafflement/irritation. All I ask, in the words of my old gym coach Mr. Shea, is that you “play the ball, not the man.” Or, in less athletic terms: criticize the record if you’d like, but not your fellow posters for having differing opinions on it. For example, if you start a comment with “I can’t believe you call yourself a David Bowie fan,” you are not being cool.
Have at it. See you next week.
For those blissfully unaware of the latest awful New England weather, this past Saturday we were blessed with a pre-Halloween snowstorm. Since then I, like hundreds of thousands of others, have had no power, heat, phone or Internet. But I am doing okay—the beer keeps cold enough when stuffed in a snowbank, and you can still light burners on gas stoves with kitchen matches.
Thankfully our second home Anselblue Design Studio finally has power/Internet restored as of this morning. But no new entries until next week, most likely. I’m truly sorry to leave “Shake It,” of all things, as the current face of the blog, but what can you do.
For those of you out there still without power—hang on and keep warm.