Bands I’ve Seen (updated, 2024)

The last time I updated this I wrote:

The way Cecil does this, with the names of the bands along the left side of his blog and thus easily updatable, is probably smarter. This way I’m going to have to post a new list every year or two for the rest of my damn life.

That was 14 years ago. A lot of water has passed under the proverbial bridge since then, a lot of shows have been attended, a lot of brain cells have died.

But this seems like a good time to revisit it as I have no tickets to anything upcoming in hand, and nothing much of interest on the radar. (This is a particularly bad summer for live music. I mean… Limp Bizkit is back!) Since I had some tinnitus earlier this year, it seems like a reasonable time to take a break and live a little in the past.

I’m sure to miss a few things due to the brain damage — especially since ticket stubs are no longer a thing — but I’ll do my best.

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Year of the Scavenger, Side 2

Why do people want Big Brother? It’s a complex question but the simple answer is: Freedom is hard. It’s a question that has to be answered every hour of every day. Many of us would rather have someone else decide.

I get it. And if that’s your choice, you have a right to it, I guess. The problem comes when a certain group tries to give freedom away for the rest of us. (Of course we can’t even agree, anymore, on what freedom is exactly; that’s a whole other conversation for another time.) Lately the fascist-adjacent rhetoric emanating from the campaign of the Convicted Felon Who Shall Not Be Named — and being embraced by what seems like a flabbergasting percentage of the populace — has been giving me the heebie-jeebies.

America: Please don’t. I’m begging here.

But why am I telling you this? Every reader of this blog is a smart, sensible, good-looking person. Here’s some Bowie for you.

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Year of the Scavenger, Side 1

Today, I am informed, is the 50th anniversary of the release of Diamond Dogs. A great album — or more accurately, an album with some great stuff on it.

I always thought some dubious choices were made in terms of track listing and sequencing, so a few years ago I made my own version. I sent it to a couple people but I don’t think they paid attention, not that there’s any reason they should have.

This seems like the right moment to dig it out. You’ll notice that it starts and ends (almost) the same as the original album, because those were absolutely 100% the right choices. In between things are added, subtracted, and rearranged. (Don’t hold your breath waiting for “Rebel Rebel” — the single version was OK, but it never belonged on the album. I will die on this hill.)

Here’s Side 1. We’ll get to Side 2 in a little bit.

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The 10 Days of David, Part 10

“Something happened on the day he died.”

“Blackstar” is huge: longer than “Cygnet Committee,” longer than the “Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing” suite from Diamond Dogs, longer even than “Station to Station” if you edit out the fades at beginning and end. It contains multitudes. It’s elegiac, ominous, angry, funky, spooky, funny, then all of those things again in a different order.

There is a lot to say about it — O’Leary devotes the last 15 pages of Ashes to Ashes to it. But today my time is limited, as yours probably is too. So if all you have is ten minutes, spend them watching this.

If perchance you want something to read: After David died on this day back in 2016, I (eventually) wrote a hopeful thing called “Let the Thousand Bowies Bloom.” I liked it then and I like it now. This is a day to think about death… but life goes on.

There will now be a period of silence from this quarter. After posting something most days for several months, I find that I am tired of my own voice. Perhaps I am not alone in this. 2024 promises to be a weird and interesting year, and there will be things to discuss; but for now, adieu.

The 10 Days of David, Part 9

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.
—Henry David Thoreau

Here I am killing time between the 8th and 10th, the two significant dates on the Bowie calendar. As luck would have it today’s song is “Killing a Little Time,” another Lazarus number that David released his version of on the No Plan EP.

It’s a minor song, I suppose. Also a noisy one, sort of jazz-metal, apparently based in part on a song by Maria Schneider (David’s collaborator on “Sue”):

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The 10 Days of David, Part 8

David Robert Jones a.k.a. Bowie would have turned 77 today. Still not all that old, really.

Of course you have to wonder what he would have done with those extra years. especially given the creative momentum he had when death so rudely interrupted. Apparently even before the release of Blackstar he was on the phone to Tony Visconti plotting his next album.

Alas.

As it happens, next up in the chronology is “I Can’t Give Everything Away,” which as the last song on the last album holds a special place in the canon. I’ve always taken that title to mean “I’m not telling you how I did it. That would ruin it for you.”

But he does tell us this:

Saying no but meaning yes
This is all I ever meant
That’s the message that I sent

David was not a sentimentalist. His first big hit was about an astronaut committing suicide. And by and large his oeuvre was pretty dark — that’s the no.

But there is affirmation in the simple act of creation. That’s the yes.

After a half-century’s work, he left behind a mystery that we will never get to the bottom of. Still there are surprises — for instance, this version of “I Can’t Give Everything Away” — it’s different from the album version, is it not?


As we all know, David shares a birthday with Elvis Aron Presley, born 1935. The King would be only 89! Also not all that old, all things considered.

This week news broke that a computer-generated Elvis hologram would be doing concerts soon. It seems inevitable that this will happen to David Bowie too. So far his estate has been pretty careful about protecting his legacy — for instance denying the use of his music to the disastrous Stardust movie — but sooner or later it seems likely to come to pass.

If done right, it could be entertaining. I’m not saying that I’ll go, but I’m not saying I won’t. I can’t give everything away.