This is ourselves

12 01 2016

I was never a huge fan of David Bowie’s.

I mean, I liked his music, had a few records, and generally enjoyed his work, but I was never a super-fan, and never had a full-on Bowie fever.

So why am I so sad today? And why can’t I stop reading about him?

~~~

David Bowie is actually associated with one of my worst memories from high school.

I wanted to be the yearbook editor my senior year. I’d started working on the yearbook staff when I was a freshman (which frosh usually didn’t do), was generally acknowledged to be ‘the writer’ in my class (not that hard, really, in a class of 150), and fully expected that the adviser, Ms. G., would appoint me.

She did not.*

L. and T. were appointed instead, and I’d be pissed about it to this today had they not a) put together a kick-ass yearbook; and b) treated me really, really well, allowing me to contribute in all kinds of way. They were champs.

Anyway, my idea was to create a yearbook around the lyrics to “Changes”—which is how Bowie gets dragged into this bad memory.

I have no idea whether or not this would have worked: it could have been amazing, it could have sucked, it could have been Eh.

Woulda liked the chance to have found out.

(*She had her reasons, which were legit. Still. . . .)

~~~

I’ve said “Under Pressure” is one of my favorite guilty pleasures, but today I’ve read all kinds of pieces holding that song out as some kind of genius.

I don’t think it’s genius, but yeah, it is a good pop song, undeserving of the guilty-pleasure label.

~~~

One good thing that’s come from all this reading today is that I found, courtesy of the Huffington Post, a couple of videos of Bowie playing with Arcade Fire.

First I saw this one, one of Bowie’s songs:

Then one of Arcade Fire’s:

I like Arcade Fire’s cds just fine, but watching them live, man, I realllly want to see them live.

What it would have been like to see them live with Bowie.

~~~

I think the main reason I considered “Under Pressure” a guilty pleasure is that every time I hear it I tear up.

I cannot handle my own tears, cannot handle that I am moved to tears.

~~~

It’s kind of astonishing how amazing a singer Bowie was, given that he didn’t have much of a voice.

He’s not like Leonard Cohen, who can’t sing at all, but if I were asked for the best straight-up voices in pop, I wouldn’t name Bowie.

But oh, could he sing, so many different types of songs, with so many different types of singers. Some of these collaborations (Arcade Fire) work better than others (Mick Jagger), it wasn’t down to him.

Something about that thin reed, stretched across the universe.

~~~

“Space Oddity” reminds me of John Lennon. I don’t know why. Maybe I heard it while thinking about Lennon’s death.

Or maybe it just reminds me of high school.

It’s not every time I hear the song I’m reeled back, but sometimes, sometimes I’m in the parking lot at Sheboygan Falls High School, Bowie on the car radio, singing And I’m sitting in my tin can. . . .

~~~

“Under Pressure” is about love, after all.

And love, I don’t know what to do with love.

Thus my chagrin over my tears, my chagrin over love.

~~~

And all of the work he’s done, all of the chances he took, all he gave and all he withheld, all he hid and all he revealed.

David Bowie, 1947-2016, was a Starman, a man who fell to earth, an alien, an artist, but most of all, most of all, David Bowie was a human being.





It’s the terror of knowing what this world is about

17 01 2013

All right, all right, it’s a Queen song, not a Bowie song, but it’s on a Bowie compilation so back off, okay?

Besides, I don’t own any Queen cds.

Where was I? Oh yes, guilty pleasures.

“Guilty pleasure”: really, a misnomer. I don’t feel at all guilty for love love LOVING “Under Pressure”. I can hear it in the cleaning aisle of Home Depot and I’m going to bop my head and maybe, just maybe, sing it softly to the mops and soaps and buckets.

And if I’m at home? Well, you know what happens: Kick off the slippers, pump up the volume, then silently sing the shit out of the song, complete with body swirls and stretching out my arms as I mouth

‘Cause love’s such an old fashioned word
And love dares you to care for
The people on the edge of the Night
And love dares you to change our way of
Caring about ourselves
This is our last dance
This is our last dance
This is ourselves

I take the Bowie part in this, grooving while Freddie does his Freddie thing. We end with the finger snaps, of course.

Will I ever do this in front of you? Of course not.

I don’t know what it is about this cheesy song—and yes, I do think it is cheesy—but I am helpless before its bass line and multiple crescendos and overwrought lyrics. I could perhaps say that it is the ontological pathos of This is our last dance/This is ourselves that shivers me timbers—but you’d know that was ex post facto bullshit, right? That I bopped and flung my arms out long before I even knew what ontology was, right?

Still, my passion seems. . . unseemly. A cheesy pop song, fer cryin’ out loud! And Queen, fer cryin’ out loud! Couldn’t I have gone with, I dunno, Bob Dylan? (No.) Leonard Cohen? (He’s not that kind of guy.)

Well, passion is always unseemly to those who don’t share it, and reckless for the helplessness it engenders in those caught up in it. How can you not give yourself over?

So: Instead of guilty pleasure, I dub this “helpless pleasure”.

Um ba ba be.