Thursday, August 4, 2011
Bowie Bio Starman Chapter 18-Epilogue
Chapter 18: Bowie spends more time with his son and records "Cat People" and the UK#1 hit "Under Pressure" with Queen. He performs in a Bretolt Brecht play, Baal, a Tony Scott film called The Hunger. and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence.
He spends days with producer Nile Rodgers ( of Chic fame) listening to The Beatles' "Twist and Shout" and Henry Mancini. The Beatles' "Ahhhhhhh..." and Mancini's horns would both be heard in the song "Let's Dance".
Chapter 19. For the "Let's Dance" video, Bowie acts like he's playing the guitar solo by Stevie Ray Vaughan which eventually leads to SRV quitting the critically hailed tour.
The next album, Tonight, is a disaster. Bowie's brother lies down on a railroad track and kills himself. The press is ruthless towards Bowie who records "Absolute Beginners" and the Mick Jagger duet "Dancing in the Street". (In the video they are obviously competing with eachother for attention: was there enough oxygen in the studio for the crew to even breathe?)
Bowie performs at Live Aid. Then goes on the Glass Spider tour--another disaster.
Chapter 20 Bowie forms Tin Machine with Soupy Sales' sons and others.
The Sound + Vision tour is difficult but towards the end he meets his future wife , the model Iman.
More under-appreciated albums follow.
Chapter 21 More forgettable albums. He celebrates his 50th birthday in concert sporting perfect teeth. A daughter is born. The Bowies move to NYC. Bowie has a heart attack and slows down.
Epilogue Bowie has moved away from the music scene. The best song of this century is the one he writes "off the cuff" in a hilarious scene on Ricky Gervais' series "Extras"
Starman does what a biography should. It relates the life of the artist and how it is reflected in the art. But I wanted more about the artist and art and less about the business decisions involved. Trynka argues that Bowie eventually become a corporation so I understand his obligations.
Clearly Bowie was the first of the great rock chameleons. Elvis never became anybody but Elvis. Bowie changed his identity once a year in the 70's and inspired other pop chameleons like Madonna and Prince who still savor long careers. And Dammit, Bowie just wanted IT more.
Finally if the future of books is the e-book how long before we begin to see embedded music and video and more pictures? A biography like this one cries out for something more.