‘Where Are We Now?’ – the ‘Starman’ at 66…

9 01 2013

changes_french_picture_sleeve_600sq

“Time may change me,

But I can’t trace time…”

 

David Bowie: ‘Changes’ – released January 7th 1972  

 


a-p_c-fcmaem_ej“A moment of bliss I never thought I’d have again. Listening to new Bowie for the first time.”

Lady GaGa welcomes ‘Where Are We Now?’ – released January 8th 2013 (Twitter)

 

“Just bought David Bowie’s new single ‘Where Are We Now?’- bloody gorgeous. New Album coming. How happy am I?”

Boy George (Twitter)

 

David Bowie has always been one for ch-ch-ch changes. Monday, marked 41 years since the master of reinvention released the ‘Changes’ single, his first on the RCA label, a day before his 25th birthday.

David_Bowie-06This time a year ago I wrote at some length about ‘Bus-pass Bowie’ at 65′ – ‘a mortal with potential of a superman’…   

Yesterday, his 66th birthday, the ‘Starman’ released his first single in a decade, into cyberspace. We didn’t even have to ‘try to pick him up on Chanel 2’, ‘Where Are We Now’, materialised from out of the ether, appearing unannounced on iTunes – Bowie as always a master of mystique and perfect timing.    

There is an album to follow, ‘The Next Day’, due out in March and an up-coming major exhibition at the V&A – so clearly timing is everything!

I’ve listened, a few times now, to the new release from an ageing glam-rock icon – a haunting and nostalgic piece harking back to more hedonistic days, living in Berlin with Iggy Pop – something of an Oddity but its melancholic cadences are beginning to grow on me.

I’m not so sure it was deserving of such rich critical acclaim from the media. There were far fewer eulogies from the music buying public. Comments, on Twitter and Facebook, were rather more prosaic and views very mixed. However there did seem to be a general consensus that Bowie, as a music legend, has earned the right to do what he likes in  his twilight years. I wouldn’t want to argue against that.  

2013-where-are-we-_2445781bThe somewhat surreal video, Bowie as part of a two-headed doll (the other an unknown woman who remains silent throughout) while monochrome footage of Berlin landmarks, referred to in the somewhat abstract lyrics, plays out behind, is a pretty essential accompaniment.

Unless you know Berlin particularly well, without the visual prompts Potsdamer Platz (a public square decimated by bombing in World War II) the Dschungel (Club), KaDeWe (department-store) and Bose Brucke (a West Berlin bridge – the site of Checkpoint Charlie) might not resonate so well.

starmanI hope this is his swan song. I’m pretty sure it will be, and that the artist who turned down a personal plea from Danny Boyle to appear at the Olympics opening ceremony is quick enough to know when the race is run – unlike one or two others!

I’ll look forward to the rest of the album, I’m sure it will be fine, perfectly listenable, but that is probably the ultimate insult to a ground-breaking artist with such an outstanding and memorable  back catalogue… 

‘Hunky Dory’, ‘Ziggy’, ‘Aladdin Sane’ … 

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