Well, shit: this wasn’t how my Monday was supposed to go.
Not that I had any idea how things were going to play out today, but I certainly didn’t expect that they’d involve me spending the majority of my time eulogizing or mourning David Bowie. In fact, I’ve spent so much time either writing about Bowie or reminiscing about Bowie that I’ve literally done nothing else.
Oh, actually, that’s not true: I wrote a piece for Rhino’s website about the 45th anniversary of Chicago III. But Bowie’s so prominent in everyone’s mind over there at the moment – they’ve got ownership of his Parlophone UK material, which is from Space Oddity all the way up through 1999’s ‘Hours…’ – that it hasn’t even been posted yet as of this writing. Which is fine: of course Bowie should be the priority today.
This is, as far as I know, the last Bowie piece I’ll be writing today, and I’m kind of emotionally spent at this point, so don’t hold it against me if there’s not a lot of substance to it. No, actually, I take that back: it might actually be appropriate for it to turn out that way. After all, I can’t imagine that phrase wasn’t used to describe his Never Let Me Down album at some point.
Sometimes I feel like I’m the only Bowie fan who’s willing to concede to enjoying Never Let Me Down, but it’s been so maligned over the years that I have a tendency to make self-deprecating jokes about it, saying things like, “I actually really like that album. Well, maybe adding the ‘really‘ is overdoing it, but I do rather enjoy it. The first side of it, anyway.” The truth of the matter, though, is that I love the first side of it, and I don’t really have a problem with anything on side two. (Please forgive me: my first copy was on cassette, so I still think of it in those terms.)
If there was ever a day when I didn’t need to mount a defense for Never Let Me Down, it’s today, but I have one anyway: it was the first Bowie album I ever bought, so it was the first one that I played over and over. I really don’t know what it is about me that I became a fan of so many artists at ostensibly the worst possible time in their career, but it’s a trend that started with me when I got a copy of Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street for Christmas 1984, and it still recurs even now. So that’s one reason why I’m particularly partial to Never Let Me Down, but the other reason is that the only time I ever saw Bowie live was when he was touring behind the album.
Perhaps you’ve heard of a little jaunt called the Glass Spider tour?