Hello again, internet. Did you miss me? I knew you did. So good to see you again. As if I haven’t been elsewhere on the internet every day since my last post on this blog…
Anyway, this has been a hell of a month, let me just say. It’s been a month of complete personal and spiritual upheaval, it’s been spectacularly painful, but also gloriously beautiful. I’m full of hope and energy and good vibes; I’ve never felt more alive.
I’ve also never felt less like blogging.
Hey, dig that segue. See what I did there?
Gee, a month goes by fast. Again, I find myself being stingy with my writing time. There’s so much other stuff going on that I feel like I must dedicate my writing to my books. They’re the most important thing in my life, basically, even more important to me than Bowie, if you can imagine such a thing. Perish the thought! Blasphemy! But it’s true. So the energy I could’ve put into this post went elsewhere. Again. I don’t know why I feel like I have to make excuses except that the first few posts were crafted with loving enthusiasm and I put a lot of time and thought into them, and such is not the case for these last few posts. But I made a commitment and I’m gonna damn well keep it, even if I show my ass once or twice. Or more. Who knows. It’s an exciting thing. Stay tuned.
So I had listened to Pin-Ups before, a long time ago, and thought it was interesting but not that interesting because it’s a cover album, and I’ve heretofore been primarily interested in material Bowie wrote (or mostly wrote) himself. For some reason, I hadn’t considered, until now, that I could probably learn a great deal about someone I deeply admire by taking a look at who influenced them.
Interestingly, in the weeks preceding this post, having mostly forgotten I had planned to do Pin-Ups this month, I became obsessed with the 2003 version of “Waterloo Sunset”. Pin-Ups was an album of Bowie doing covers of mid-sixties English rock songs, so no doubt the 2003 version of “Waterloo Sunset” had its origins somewhere in the Pin-Ups period, as another Kinks song, “Where Have All The Good Times Gone?” was on the album.
I’m not sure Pin-Ups will become one of my staple listening albums (who knows though really), but what I did love about it was comparing it to other covers Bowie has done, and examining his approach to covers in general. I am absolutely fascinated by his ability to remain faithful to a song yet completely reinvent it with his delicious uniqueness. The end results are always deeply satisfying. The man had so much fucking passion for music, whether it was original material dredged up from the depths of his own soul, or whether someone else’s song that inspired him to such electrifying energy as on “Rosalyn,” the opening track to Pin-Ups.
Of all the covers on this album, my favorite is probably “See Emily Play,” as I think the overall aesthetic is different to any other Bowie material I’ve heard— whereas the original Pink Floyd version (1967) sounded a lot like other similar acts of the time. His cover of “Across the Universe” on the Young Americans album similarly exhibits an aesthetic wildly different to the original and different to most any other track of Bowie’s I’ve heard. Another fascinating pick from the repertoire is his version of “Wild is the Wind,” which he based off of Nina Simone’s version, whose version was based off of a kind of lame johnny Mathis joint from some movie in the fifties. The very first version reminds me of something my grandma might think was cute when she was a teenager… I enjoy Nina Simone’s version as well, but Bowie’s version, in my humble opinion, is the one that transforms it utterly into an epic, aching love song. He was kinda good at those.
I noticed that the sounds and themes on Pin-Ups are a bit outdated for Bowie, by this point, in my analysis of him as an artist. I mean the passion is there, clearly he loved these songs and his own versions of them were sincere, but while the songs on Pin-Ups are early rock songs about girls and drugs and whatever, Bowie was in the middle of an epic re-engineering of the entire genre, pioneering the glam rock movement and poised to release an album which was a rock-opera version of Orwell’s 1984 set in a post-apocalyptic dystopia, starring thugs on roller skates wielding machetes. I mean… come on. (Btdubs, whoever curates Orwell’s or Bowie’s or whosever estate, I’m still waiting to see Diamond Dogs made into a proper stage show. Ijfs.)
It’s interesting to me that such a visionary artist could draw so very deeply on seemingly mundane material. I mean, not to disparage the music that he covered… they were pioneers in their own right, I’m merely observing the vast differences in sound, theme, imagination, and originality. As mentioned above, thematically, Bowie was on another planet (hee hee… it’s funny cause… Ziggy… Stardust… wasanalien) and I wonder about the alchemical (or possibly mostly chemical) process happening in his mind to transform material like we find on Pin-Ups into the bizarre mad genius of Ziggy and Diamond Dogs. Like, sorry ‘bout it, Daltry and Barrett, you guys are incredible, but Bowie was way weirder, and as far as I’m concerned, much cooler. I’ll take a glittery androgynous alien with a red mullet over a regular old rock star any day of the week. Especially Tuesday.
I’m not here to have a pissing contest about whose classic rock icon is better, though. Just dashing down some thoughts on Pin-Ups and trying, obliquely, to refer back to the posts that made a little more sense than the recent ones. It’s late at night, my post is three days overdue, but I feel better about this one than the last two (ish). I’m still hoping, at some point, to go back and do Hunky thru Aladdin proper justice. Bear with me a little longer, I feel like I’m on the edge of a breakthrough. I feel like I’ll soon have more resources to put into my writing, which will include projects other than the novels I’ve been working on the most lately (an epic historical romance which has grown from one book into three). I have so much more I’d like to do. Short stories, poems, romances in other genres, non-romance novels, biographies, memoirs, books I’d like to read, and shit, maybe I’ll do a cover album of my own! I’ve always thought it would be a hell of a lot of fun to cover one of Bowie’s albums, although I don’t know which one, or how I would play the music since I don’t know any instruments, but hey. Minor details. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Maybe I’ll do a whole album of kazoo covers of Bowie songs. I’ll be famous!! Look out Universe, here I come!