The funny thing about “I’d Rather Be High” is that when you get to the part where he says what he’d rather be high than — “training these guns on those men in the sand” — you have to scratch your head. Well, of course, Dave, you’d rather be high than doing that — who wouldn’t? What are you trying to get at here?
The whole song is a confusing tangle of literary references and war imagery. Then all of a sudden the soldier seems to remember he’s in a rock’n’roll song and croons,
I’d rather smoke and phone my ex
Be pleading for some teenage sex, yeah
It’s a good tune, though, and it comes in a few different flavors. I’m partial to the album version, but the official video uses the Venetian mix, which is heavy on the harpsichord. The definitive version, though, may well be the one he did for Louis Vuitton. Unlike the other video, David actually appears in this one:
It’s quite the little epic. Sure, it’s a commercial; so what? Late-stage Bowie could do whatever he wanted, and this was what he wanted to do. Who are we mere mortals to question him?
Just remember, duckies, everybody gets got.
I don’t think much of “The Informer” as a song — it plods along for four and a half looong minutes, and the melody is so unmemorable that despite having listened to it about about 15 minutes ago, I cannot at this moment call it to mind. This video isn’t much either: “Random Bowie images thrown together in five minutes,” says the poster.
But there’s an intriguing suggestion hiding in the lyrics, which appear to be written from the point of view of an assassin. Chris O’Leary relates them to In Bruges, the 2008 black comedy that everyone but me seemed to love, though honestly I barely remember it. Maybe I ought to give it another shot.
Meanwhile Momus, the Scottish singer/songwriter who was a prolific commenter on COL’s Bowie blog, has this to say:
The song seems to be an assassin’s death sentence passed on someone who’s betrayed a generation, sold out their aspirations, gone for gold over soul.
Chris O’Leary says that “Boss of Me” is “the worst thing on its album. There is no reason for it to exist.”
I like it a little more than that. In fact when it’s playing I rather enjoy it. But to COL’s point, were it suddenly to disappear from the spacetime continuum, I would never notice. It appears to have been tossed together over an afternoon, and named after an effects pedal (the Boss ME-80). But it made the cut for The Next Day. Well, that’s Bowie for ya.
“Love Is Lost” is one of the better songs on The Next Day: dark but glamorous, with a throbbing urgency. At some point Bowie invited James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem to create a remix, which he called the “Hello Steve Reich Mix,” and all the hipsters fell all over themselves to say how great it was.
I personally think it sucks. (I’m not saying I’m right and they’re wrong — de gustibus non est disputandum — but none of them are in this room to argue with me right now.) Yet somehow, like the Pet Shop Boys’ dreadful mistreatment of “Hallo Spaceboy,” it ended up usurping the rightful place of the original song, appearing on greatest hits compilations and whatnot.
The official video uses an edit of the remix, which in its uncut form was an insufferable ten and a half minutes long. And using the keyboard line from “Ashes to Ashes” was cheating. For the record, some LCD Soundsystem I quite like. But this thing… nah.
The video is pretty creepy. Supposedly David made it himself at home. The bathroom appears to be the same one from the “Thursday’s Child” video; does that mean it was also shot chez Bowie?
And that thing he keeps saying: “what have you done?” Where do I know that from? Oh, right:
Sexy Sadie, what have you done
You made a fool of everyone
After finishing Player Piano I decided to go back and reread some of Vonnegut’s stories, which constituted the majority of his output from that period. Imagine my chagrin to find Welcome to the Monkey House missing from the library. Also gone: the posthumously released story collection Bagombo Snuff Box.
I guess I must have loaned/given them to somebody? This vaguely rings a bell. In fact I seem to remember giving away more than one copy of Monkey House when the fancy updated edition was released some years ago. Fortunately neither it nor Snuff Box was expensive to reacquire. They are currently en route from Fife, WA and Kansas City, MO respectively.
In the meantime I started reading another story collection I found on my shelf, Look at the Birdie. Here’s the first sentence of the first story. I think it bodes well.
The Summer had died peacefully in its sleep, and Autumn, as soft-spoken executrix, was locking life up safely until Spring came to claim it.