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
I’m going to break chronology again to post a song suggested by this recent lede from the New York Times:
Five years and change. That’s how long humans can keep pumping carbon into the atmosphere at our current rate before we’re likely to push global warming past the most ambitious limit set by the Paris Agreement, according to new estimates released Monday by a team of climate scientists.
In other words: Earth is really dying. I can’t think of anything cute or funny to say about this. The other day I received in the mail, unsolicited, a copy of a magazine called The Week. I randomly flipped it open and saw this headline:
Earth’s ability to sustain human life in peril
It was at the top of page 19.
That’s the world we’re living in now. I strive always for positivity, but some days it’s hard to get there.
Well, at least we have five years left to listen to David Bowie in.
Watching the “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” video again this morning, it hit me that this in some ways is the arrival of the Bowie that we’d been waiting for since The Man Who Fell to Earth: the movie star. It’s just that the movie is six minutes long and has music in it.
The feature film is passe anyway, isn’t it? You really expect people to sit down and watch one screen for ninety minutes or more? Martin Scorsese’s new movie is three and a half hours long — who the hell does he think he is?
Today’s video is nice and short. Really it’s barely a video at all — the only thing that moves is the text. But if you want to know the Spanish as well as English lyrics, it’s all there for you.
“So She” was one of the Next Day-era songs that got lost in the sudden barrage of new Bowie material. It benefits from being pulled out of context and heard on its own. OK, it’s no “Life on Mars,” but it has it charms and doesn’t overstay its welcome. I like the part where he sings “further out to sea” — always reminds me of “Synchronicity II,” not that I’m a Police stan exactly, but I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.
There’s also a slice of mid-Eighties cheese in there, but who am I to judge? “So She” crams about eight different songs into its two-and-a-half minutes. Like a good movie, it keeps moving and it’s over before you know it.
I thought about posting this last night, as it is pretty Halloweeny — maybe we should just call it “Halloween-adjacent.” Apparently this video is “age-restricted”; seems a bit uptight to me. It’s not that racy, ( Or is it? At times it’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on.)
This is one I wrote about back when it came out, and my opinion hasn’t changed: “It may not be the greatest song David’s ever written, but man, it’s one hell of a video.” Well worth clicking through for.
A foornote: The music at the beginning is from another song altogether, an instrumental called “Plan” that appeared on the deluxe version of The Next Day. Later, there would be a Blackstar outtake called “No Plan.” I can’t tell you what it all means; I myself have no plan. Just taking it one day at a time.
Today’s Bowie song is “Heat,” which I quite like. It’s atmospheric, unsettling, and filled with gnomic utterances like “I am a seer/I am a liar.” Apparently it is highly influenced by the works of Japanese author Yukio Mishima, a fascinating human whose portrait David painted while he was living in Berlin. “Mishima is considered one of the most important writers of the 20th century,” says the Wikipedia. Then also:
On 25 November 1970, Mishima and four members of his militia entered a military base in central Tokyo, took its commandant hostage, and unsuccessfully tried to inspire the Japan Self-Defense Forces to rise up and overthrow Japan’s 1947 Constitution (which he called “a constitution of defeat”). After his speech and screaming of “Long live the Emperor!,” he committed seppuku.
Like I said: an unusual cat. I’ve never read his books; I may someday if I live long enough.
But the real ur-text of “Heat” is Scott Walker’s song “The Electrician,” which appeared on the Walker Brothers’ 1978 album Nite Flights. Both Bowie and Brian Eno were huge admirers of Nite Flights — though really just of the four songs written by Scott; the ones written by the other Walkersare forgettable — and particularly of “The Electrician.” (more…)