Saturday, April 21, 2012
By the way, David Bowie. The possibilities of sex made flesh.
Let me assure you, however, this thought has come to me more than once, at a day's end that's seen me shopping at Trader Joe's, where the music's geared to baby boomers. Sure and absolutely and with good reason, the entire market hums when Aretha, Otis, the Isleys, soul sisters, soul brothers play.
I'm there with the soul--way--but not with the Beatles when their music comes on. I once glued Life Magazine articles about them in my scrapbook (I was in junior high). Now, however, I am only glad to hear from the Beatles songbook when the song's covered by a contemporary singer. (Wikipedia has a long, long list of covers, Alvin and the Chipmunks being among the many celebrities to sing Beatlesian tunes. To see the list of covers: click this sentence.)
The Stones are fine, but of only historical importance, to me, and while Neil Young is always appreciated, as are Laura Nyro (!), Buffalo Springfield, Janis, the seventies (and to this day) singer I love most (again, not counting soul, r&B) is Bowie.
I was a card carrying member of his fan club--and I was alive at that point, not in junior high but in my twenties. He was the angel sent by God to keep us music-ed up and open, charmed, savvy, impossibly hip; elevated to a psychedelic pedestal, enchanted, quasi-Euro, very sexy. Very.
I'm too demanding and too easily annoyed to fall back on baby boomer nostalgia, so don't figure that's behind my enthusiasm. Bowie's originality shines, his odd quiver of magic is a voice trait in the tradition of Billie Holiday's vocal timbre which immortalizes itself. He doesn't have Billie Holiday's eternal genius, but that's not the point. I am making a sort-of analogy.
He covered the Beatles "Across the Universe" (click to get to Youtube) on Young Americans. That's a very Beatles tune but there he is, owning it, vocally rewriting.
I wish I still had my membership card. David Bowie. The possibilities of sex with any of many genders. Subtlety made flesh.