Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ziggy Stardust

Blogging is hard. During the week, I don't seem to have a lot of personal time so it looks like my posting is going to be heavier on the weekends. Do check back to previous posts because I have a terrible habit of editing and updating older posts. Sometimes, I start a post and then go off in some other direction. I am trying not to, but I am still a newbie at this blogging and make frequent mistakes. Bear with me, I promise I'll get better.

As I said at the start of my blog, all my post titles will be Bowie song titles or lyrics, except for the occasional obvious Bowie link. ;) See if you can recognize them. Bowie has over 450 songs to choose from so I think I can do it. We'll see...

I supppose this is as good a time as any to tell about my Bowie obsession. LOL. It all started in the seventies. I remember hearing Changes on the radio. But the song that really grabbed me was Mott the Hoople's cover of All the Young Dudes. David Bowie sings back up vocals sublimely!! (Did you know this was written by Bowie and given to MTH because they needed a hit? And Bowie hadn't even had a hit yet!)

I was never anywhere near where he was touring, so it was a long time before I saw him in concert. I moved to New Mexico in 1976 and he'd already filmed the movie, The Man Who Fell to Earth in 1975. I had a friend nicknamed Bo (go figure) who was very into Bowie. He loaned me all his LPs to copy to cassette (yep, even in those days we copied music.) I was fascinated by his ever changing genius. On every album Bowie looked and sounded so different! Bo also introduced me to Patty Smith, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and many other musicians. I bought myself a full audio system: turntable, speakers, cassette recorder/player, and radio. I was taping album sides off the radio as well as recording my friend's lps. In those days, the radio station would play complete albums late at night. Anyway, Bo and I grew apart but my love for Bowie just grew.
Thanks Bo!

I remember being fascinated with my older sister's Transformer album by Lou Reed. Of course, Bowie (and Mick Ronson, Bowie's guitarist) had a huge part in that, producing and co writing many of the songs. I still enjoy listening to Transformer. If you listen closely, you can pick out Bowie's backing vocals, especially on Satellite of Love.

(I was also very deeply into Cat Stevens at this time. I have a complete collection of Cat Stevens cassettes and cds along with my huge Bowie collection.)

It was hard to get information about musicians in those days. I read Rolling Stone magazine regularly but they didn't often include him. I spent a lot of time defending Bowie when my friends claimed he was gay. Bowie has never appealed to mainstream America.

Then, I met my husband, Scott. We danced every weekend at the local clubs. He enjoyed music as much as I did. In 1983, Bowie's Serious Moonlight tour began. Because he was now a radio star, the local radio station organized a "Bowie Bus" to travel to his concert in Phoenix. My husband allowed me to go, but couldn't go himself, or wouldn't?, so he made me bring my older sister. What a trip we had! The chartered bus kept breaking down and we all wondered if we would ever get there. We did, just in time, but we missed the opening act. WHEW! It was that close!

During that concert, I got "the look". Bowie watches his audience, he consumes them, he'll even steal your soul if you let him. It was mezmerizing and magnetic, like a jolt from an electric shock. (I know you think I'm crazy but my husband mentioned it at a later concert we both attended. He got "the look" that time!) The Serious Moonlight concert was awesome! Many people ridicule Bowie's 80's era but Lets Dance is such a great song! And he played sorrow, Cat People, Young Americans, Station to Station, What in the World, Space Oddity, and so many other fantastic songs! It was magic! It could only have been better if my husband had been there with me.

Then we decided to raise a family and I packed away all my music. I just didn't think it proper exposing them to some of the explicit lyrics on albums. Radio songs were 'safe' in those days.

The last Bowie album I bought was Tonight. It wasn't so good. Somehow, the movie, Labyrinth, released in 1986, totally escaped me. Then, over the next few years I randomly picked up on Bowie news but didn't really think much about it. I read about his Tin Machine project. I knew that he got married to Iman. I knew he released an album, Black Tie, White Noise...
Only, I had gotten comfortably numb just listening to the grunge bands on the radio.

Jump forward to 2002. I got the internet and discovered Napster. I was able to download music that I hadn't heard in such a long time! It was heaven on Earth! I proceeded to rediscover my passion for music, especially Cat Stevens and David Bowie. I D/L'd almost all of Bowie's 26 studio albums. I then proceeded to buy them all. Around this time, I read about the release of Bowie's new album Heathen. I bought it and the Best of Bowie 2 dvd set of all his music videos. Overnight, I became a Bowie acolyte. I joined BowieWonderworld. And I confess, I'm obsessed.

When Bowie toured in 2003-2004, Scott and I saw him three times on his Reality tour. We had to travel to Las Vegas one weekend and then Phoenix - Las Vegas the next weekend. I felt like a groupie following his tour like we did. Scott enjoyed the concerts too, although not as much as I did. As I mentioned earlier, he told me he got "the look" from Bowie himself. The best seats I could get were 29th row, so I sold them since we had the three concerts planned. Then I found 10th row, so we were back to 3 dates. I spent so much time on the internet following his concerts city to city that my husband was getting jealous, I'm sure. One bit of irony is that I have bootleg cds from almost everywhere except the shows I saw. No one taped them. Another interesting fact is that I saw guitarist Earl Slick perform every time I saw David Bowie, in 1983 and 2004.

Anyway, I hope to see him in concert again but it's doubtful. He hasn't performed more than a couple of songs at special events since he had his heart problems. At one concert in Norway a fan threw a lollipop on stage and it hit him in his bad eye. Very soon after that he began to have shoulder pain. After one concert, he was admitted into a German hospital for a emergency surgery. It seems he had extremely clogged veins and had a stent placed. That's what smoking 3 packs a day for 40 years will do to ya. And although Ziggy Stardust retired on July 3, 1973, Bowie will probably never officially retire. He'll just quit performing.

China Girl from the Serious Moonlight tour in 1983

Opening night of the Reality Tour in 2003

Hallo Spaceboy during Reality tour. This song ROCKED the Joint!!!Possibly my favorite song performed live. You'll need to crank up the volume for this one.

And finally, Ziggy Stardust, Live by Request 2002

1 comment:

Twinville said...

Cat People, Let's Dance and China Girl were some of my most favorite Bowie songs. Cat People movie was eerily awesome, too!

I enjoyed watching the You Tube China Girl video. Bowie looked like he was giving some of those Asian gal's 'The Look', eh?
And he was totally reaching down deep to sing for all he was worth, too. Love it!!

I didn't like Space Boy. A little too freaky for me, but Bowie did look good at that concert.
And Ziggy Stardust rocks! :)