I just heard, and yes, maybe I’m a little slow on the uptake, that David Bowie has released The Next Day, his 26th album. Amazon gift card, bring this album to me.
Bowie has always had a special place in my life for different reasons. I have my older brother Jim to thank for the introduction to Bowie. Jim never begrudged his little sister playing his records, because I was extremely gentle with them, and back in 1974, when I was 14, I dipped into listening to Jim’s Bowie albums.
Listening to them was like being hit with a bomb. Diamond Dogs was the first rumble. Hot damn. I became obsessed with the earlier albums, feeling like something spoke to me. I didn’t know why, but listening to Bowie made facing the bloodbath called junior high a little more endurable. It made this shy geek feel a little special, a little… different and strange, but on her own terms. Bowie paved the way for me in numerous ways.
In 1975, Bowie released Young Americans, a radical departure from what I had grown to love and cherish. I bravely accepted, and finally attended my first Bowie concert with two friends (one who is now my partner of maaaaany years!). A dude with a top hat offered me a joint. I was like “no!” Mainly because I had never tried pot and well, guess who sat behind me?
My older brother Jim.
My parents had given the tickets to me as a b-day present. They had, but they also wanted their little angel to have a chaperone. Smart of them. I probably still would have passed on the pot.
Bowie evolved. I evolved. High school and majoring in design at college seemed to fit in with Bowie. I felt we made art together.
I graduated college in 1982. My first job out of college was at a bathroom fixtures manufacture. I drew illustrations of how “tab a” fit into “slot b”. Hey, it was a job in my field plus I got to use “ballcock” sans irony.
In 1983, Bowie released Let’s Dance. I despised the album. What a pedestrian effort. I turned away from my Thin White Duke. We both lost focus, until 1985 when I started up a music magazine called B-Side. Much better than drawing toilet fixtures! So many musicians, so little time to cover them and never enough money.
Bowie became a distant memory. I did reconnect with him during the Adrian Belew “Pretty Pink Rose” era in 1992. What a great concert.
Then came 1995. Outside arrived for my listening pleasure. I almost stood on my head from loving what I heard. Bowie wanted to reconnect with true fans. Did our indie magazine want to interview Bowie? Hell yes we did. We decided the honor should go to our senior editor and all around goddess Carol Shutzbank. But Carol, who was only thirty-five, had just suffered a serious heart attack. Her doctor did not want her to travel. She passed the honor to me. She knew we shared a Bowie obsession.
I traveled with my partner to Los Angeles to spend two hours interviewing David Bowie. Yes, we only had like a half hour, but once we started talking about art murder, Giotto, and how much Let’s Dance sucked, we were off and running. His publicity person finally said they needed to move the remaining interviews to another day.
I felt pretty damned special. I summoned up the nerve to have my partner take a picture of me and Bowie. He looks great. I look constipated.
Bowie graced the cover of B-Side accompanied with a long, rambling interview. We had a hard time editing for content.
Hearing that Bowie is releasing his 26th album makes me feel pretty damned special. Bowie fans are stubborn creatures. We might not like certain flavors, but we always come back for more of his transformative magic.
As for my dear Carol, she talked with Bowie backstage during his tour with Trent Reznor, conducting her own impromptu one-on-one chat. She had a front row seat for the concert. She talked security into letting me stand up there with her. I did want to keep her safe.
Carol passed away five months after their meeting.
I bet she’s whipping up a review of the new album as I type. Go, Carol!