Friday, 11 January 2013

My Musical Diary XLV

This edition of the Diary was always going to be a David Bowie one. But more of a retrospective one. Well, Bowie obviously changed the tone a bit, when he released a new single on his 66th birthday, a decade after his last release of the Reality album (which came out in September 2003). That's Bowie for ya.

David Bowie - Where Are We Now?

In the words of my dear Marc Almond: "In a state of ecstatic wonder. That's where!". Couldn't have put it better myself. Pete Paphides called the brand new Bowie single "a postcard from someone we love". Indeed, Where Are We Now? is much more than a song.

I was happy with Bowie being retired. I had no objections whatsoever. As time passed by I just assumed he really had retired. There still was a possibility he would re-emerge when his kid was grown up-ish and if he had something to say, just like my other musical deity Kate Bush did last decade, when she released a new album after 12 years. But I didn't need him to do so. My favourite band are The Beatles. Apart from working wonders on one of their dead member's two demos they haven't really released anything new since 1970. Bowie's discography is just as varied as theirs, and much bigger.

No, he really didn't have to release anything new but when I read the news on Tuesday morning I couldn't help but to be absolutely excited about the sudden and surprising resurrection. "It's alive! His German pronunciation is even worse than it used to be but the song is beautiful! A real grower of the best kind! Well wasn't he smart about the release tactic?" Those and a thousand more thoughts kept running through my mind all day. I could barely concentrate on anything else.

Just WOW.

What can I say about the song? I've read way too many reactions from people who I respect for their taste and writing skills, that I don't feel I can add much else. For the best example check out the reaction of Graeme Thomson (who is the author of the excellent Kate Bush biography Under the Ivy).

My personal observations: the song's chorus reminds me of Thursday's Child's chorus a bit, actually the whole mood of these two songs is quite similar (even if in TC he lets the past go and in WAWN? he's walking the dead). The climax of the song starting with as long as there's... is breathtaking, but almost too short. I could listen to the last part of the song for years.

Now I can't wait for the new album The Next Day, which, according to Tony Visconti (who obviously produced it) should be quite "rocky" (yay! as much as I like the first single I could not take a whole album of just this mood).

As for the video...It's creepy, but apparently it's still pretty tame compared to what the artist (Tony Ousler), who shot the video, usually does. I do like the Berlin footage part of it though.

Lana Del Rey - American

be young, be dumb*, be proud 
like an American

* Best misheard lyric ever. (And judging from Google I'm not alone in hearing "dumb" instead of "dope". Heh.)

Wow. This song makes me feel things. Growers are the best. The song you kind of just let pass you by for the first few listens...and then BAM.

you make me crazy
you make me wild

Indeed. There's this kind of sad euphoria seeping throughout this song. It's a mood that features in most of Lana's songs, but here it's just turned up to 100. And Lana's voice sounds just absolutely incredible here, especially in the chorus. The tone of her voice on "wild" and (especially) "child" just does things to me. A few days ago I had a chance to listen to the song while lost in the outskirts of Prague, just me and Lana - her voice so clear - and I got all kinds of goosebumps and chills during this song. It's like the song kind of sounds more powerful than it should, considering it's a hodgepodge celebration of Americana, complete with Bruce Springsteen and Elvis mentions, as well as a quote from one of Tom Petty's biggest hits (honey put on that party dress). The song just struck a chord with me and made it to my Lana top 5.

Jessie Ware - Wildest Moments

Another song giving me headphone eargasms this past week. The Brit Awards nominee for a British Breakthrough Act of 2012 is in general not my thing...she's a bit too smooth in her music and vocal style, but Wildest Moments is sensual and dynamic enough - even though the song could be best described as a ballad (lyrics aside, it's pretty much Bleeding Love with soul and warm sexiness). Jessie does have an amazing voice, and it shines here, more than on any other of her songs that I have heard. Wildest Moments is a proper heavenly pop moment. Savour it.

Bryan Ferry - Make You Feel My Love

I've been listening to Bryan a LOT recently, haven't I. But he SO is worth listening to. He has a song for every mood...and since the mood of this whole Diary is quite melancholy (perhaps because Bowie at the beginning kind of set the tone), I chose one of Bryan's melancholy covers. Well, the song is melancholy whoever sings it (...perhaps most famously Adele on her debut album 19). Make You Feel My Love was written in the mid-90's by Bob Dylan, and I actually never heard his version (it's impossible to find online). Billy Joel then swiftly covered it...and so it all began, a never-ending stream of covers.

Bryan Ferry featured his version on his album of Dylan cover versions which came out in 2006. His version is the most delicate, vulnerable and gorgeous one that I've heard yet, and the live version that I featured here is even better than the one the album. Warmer, more tender...a real delight. One could almost get emotional.

Clan of Xymox - Heroes

This is what Heroes would sound like if it was written by New Order. I discovered this cover a few days ago thanks to a pen pal of mine and I have to say I really like it. And I can't think of another cover version of Heroes that I ever liked, so there you go.

Video Bonus:

All Bowie, just as planned. I tried to choose a few cuts of the less obvious stuff...of all kinds. Enjoy!

In 1993, introducing his own videos on MTV:

In 1996, in Basquiat, playing Andy Warhol:

In 1978, narrating Peter and the Wolf (available on CD & Vinyl):

In 1995, Strangers When We Meet video (a personal favourite of mine, the song as well as the video):

And finally & hilariously, in 2004, on an Australian chat show Rove:

Thanks so much for reading and I hope you have found some interesting and even very amusing stuff here. Have a great week and until then....

Love, Peace and Ringo!

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