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Friday, 3 February 2012

Has veteran had his teeth fixed?

POP EXPLORED, part nine. Pop supports freedom (from drug restrictions, parents, the need to work, politics by rote, etc) so the emergence of gay singers wasn’t surprising. But androgyny also became sellable. Epicene David Bowie has lasted ages.

His Space Oddity is from 1969. No doubt the punning title had contemporary resonances but the lyrics treat vagaries of being an astronaut unseriously, ape simpler Beatles songs (as does the accent) and verge on childishness:

Ground control to Major Tom,
Take your protein pill and put your helmet on


The tune is even more infantile: rumpti-tum setting for nursery rhyme or ad jingle. On the beat, limited dynamics, tentative echoing. Video reveals Bowie’s misshapen teeth. Clearly I’ve missed the point.

I ask elder daughter, Professional Bleeder, for a newer DB song and she “bellows like a little Turk”. Can’t handle “a Bowie virgin” (ie, me), recommends whole albums, says DB constantly re-invents himself, no song is typical. I say Lady Gaga and Hank Williams wait in the wings and DB must rely on Space Oddity and one other. I’m given Quick Sand.

Good grief! A positive and congenial tune. Might even listen to it again. Crescendo starts with acoustic guitar decorated, apparently, with strips of tinsel. Then funky (Dare I say that?) piano, then strings, then chorus or, possibly, Bowie x 50. Much louder, more assertive piano. Said to last 7 m 42 sec, cuts off at 5 m 08 sec.

Lyrics intermittently memorable if impenetrable:

I’m closer to the Golden Dawn
Immersed in Crowley’s uniform
Of imagery.


And unexpected:

I’m the twisted name
On Garbo’s eyes,
Living proof of
Churchill’s lies.


Homo sapiens appears, but without final s. Significant?

Claims for “revolutionary” advances in pop often occur within a narrow compass. More microscope than searchlight.

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