Somewhere in Word files unearthed from 2002, I have an essay with this title. But, it’s disappeared, or is one of the files that has a weird icon showing me I can no longer open it. This album was the soundtrack to an episode in my life that was anything but hunky dory. I listened to it shut in a room in Echo Park, Los Angeles, while I labored over a decision that has shaped the rest of my life.
I remember an older man I worked for telling me at the time that Bowie would get his lyrics from newspaper articles, cutting the words together like a ransom note. How could this be, when it seemed he was speaking poetry of deep meaning to us both? The man took me to Aron’s records and I stared at the “Diamond Dogs” album cover. He explained to me that Twiggy was on the “Pin Ups” jacket, a recording of cover songs. We also bought a Streisand album at the Out of the Closet thrift store. She covered “Life on Mars” on it.
Just several months later, I discovered, like really discovered (I’d heard it on the radio… of course.) “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” when “Starman” was on our store playlist at my retail job, and I read an article about Jack and Meg White playing a cover of “Moonage Daydream”. Or was it “Soul Love”? This album, always in my heart, reminds me of my bedroom in Woodbridge (Detroit), at the top of the house, with the slanted ceiling that made the best shadows at night. We were all listening to this, and Mott the Hoople, and Johnny Thunders, and Iggy. It was the garage rock era of the scene.
I loved the plaintiveness of “Five Years”. You could have five years for anything if you think about it, or less. And I really, really loved “Soul Love”, and have always used that term. It’s so much better than soul mate.
One of my best friends would sing “Rock and Roll Suicide” at karaoke. “Oh no, no, you’re not alone!” And like complete cliches, we have all been listening to Bowie in the last couple days. It just feels sad when a great artist dies. Will anyone that wonderful come along again? It feels better to know they are still there.
In college, I met the filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, one of the great opportunities afforded to me as a student in the University of Colorado Film Program in the era of Jerry Aronson and Stan Brakhage. D.A. had directed “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”, which we watched in class that day. He said something to the effect of “he was really very boring off stage, but when he was on stage, I would have gone to bed with him.”
I think this may describe the perfect artist.
With Soul Love, from Another Sad Bowie Fan
Thank heaven for people like him.