Bowiemas number 2

The second day represents the 69* years of his incarnation as a meat-and-two-veg person. Given that he is not around to deliver a bottle of milk to, this day of marking Bowie the man is celebrated, slightly paradoxically, by examination of Bowie the image. We think about the traces left behind, the persistence of his absence, his remaining presence in the manifest world. We create him for ourselves, and notice where he still remains.

This is the day of the earthling, of Bowie-about-the-house. Bowies as trickster, juggler, and master of the absurd. It is about vast expanses of unfolding ambition coexisting with the infinitely contracting point: Let no cosmic vision be without a kitchen sink.

This is the silliest day, and the cringe-est. We celebrate his fallibility: every haircut that didn’t do it for us, every neatly-trimmed 90s beard, and every single moment of mime.

Mark the second day with weak, audacious puns; bad impersonations (you know how: teeth bared and clamped shut, Sarf London accent); enjoying cheap merch; gnomes.

Today, wear white leggings and talk to puppets. Pull an oblique strategy card, and – whatever it says on it – make a drum’n’bass record. Take an enormous amount of drugs and pretend to all the world that you live next door to Bing Crosby. (Deny all knowledge the next day.)

And put the kettle on.

Today is primarily a visual, grandiose day. It is about acting and appearances, performance and surfaces. It is light and full of light.

But musically, it is necessarily different. Sound is the counterpoint to vision in Bowie’s embodiment, so today it becomes melancholy, fallen, small. It also takes us back to origins, moments of formation and arrival.

Although this song obviously belongs to Nina’s definitive declaration, Newley’s is a dialogue planting the listener firmly on the dusty streets of early-60s London. It’s a song that could be sung to himself by a market trader in Hackney or Bromley, hoarse and quiet after a day of shouting wares, pockets just about full.

His vocal slides, with just enough effort so you can feel the edges, between music hall mannerism and orchestral transcendence. You can hear the intimacy of the connection between the singer and the breeze, the sun, the birds – the animistic heresy he so quickly arrives at, given the freedom of half-a-chance by one simple quotidian victory.

The next song has to be by Scott Walker. Tempted to include Clara, for the sheer bloody downer of it, and for how it collapses the enormous entirety of man’s vaulting artistic aspirations into the simple fact of an innocent side of bacon getting a right good hiding off a professional percussionist, who had to go home and tell his family what he did at work today.

But that is too late, and more about the story behind the song than the song itself. Let’s not try too hard, we’re meant to be having fun today. Montague Terrace.


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