screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Tag: The Next Day

The Next Day: David Bowie’s State of the World Address

[an abridged version is up on Ryan’s Smashing Life]

What is most compelling about David Bowie’s first studio album in a decade, The Next Day, is not the brilliance of this album, but the brilliance of the timing of this album. A key part of Bowie’s genius, from his earliest incarnations to the present day, is his uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time—with the right musical statement. He has always been the man of the hour, whatever the hour happens to be.

For the past 10 years, our Chief Observer who was always there, holding up a mirror to our hopes and dreams, our fears and insecurities, our pop culture and sacred cows, had covered that mirror with a dark shroud and walked away from public life. He went off to live his life, and left us to live ours, unobserved and unrecorded. But it’s 2013, and Bowie’s back. Why now? Maybe it’s because we need him, or because he needs us. Or it’s that all this clutter and confusion, the growing chasm of human experience and sense of alienation feels too important to be just sitting and watching from the sidelines. Perhaps he feels the need to weigh in and shine his light upon this time in our collective history. Maybe it’s less a concern about legacy, and simply an eagerness to join in on the conversation.

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New David Bowie video: “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”

After so many years away from the public eye (and so many years after I’ve uttered such a phrase, and not in this digital medium), it feels downright strange to type “here’s a new Bowie video, from his soon-to-be-released album.” But well, here it is. Called “The Stars (Are Out Tonight),” it’s both disturbing and hilarious. A man who is happily (boringly?) settled into a comfortable though uneventful life is besieged by fashionably dressed stalkers. Though of course in Bowie’s case, these are fashionista monsters of his own making. His wife is portrayed by Tilda Swinton, and Norwegian model Iselin Steiro does a dead-on reading of a young ‘Thin White Duke.’ Keeping with the whole androgynous theme, models Andrej Pejić and Saskia de Brauw play the stalker couple. Just brilliant.

“Stars are never sleeping / dead ones and the living // We will never be rid of these stars / but I hope they live forever.”

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Happy birthday David Bowie, and a harrowing new song

“Where We Are Now” by David Bowie (the original vimeo wouldn’t let me embed, so thank you SparkyHughes33 on YT)

Happy Birthday, David Bowie. For his 66th birthday, he’s decided to give all of us a surprise present—a brand new song after nearly a decade of musical silence. “Where Are We Now” is a harrowing ‘state of the planet’ assessment, viewed from a place where he probably felt most, if you’ll forgive the New Ageism, “grounded”—his time spent in Berlin in the late 1970s. The song is produced by long-time collaborator Tony Visconti and the video, directed by Tony Oursler, is disturbingly stunning. It features footage from that time, of his old Berlin neighborhood, mixed in with scenes from a cluttered loft, David and an unknown companion in the guise of sad and neglected children’s dolls, and enough cryptic imagery to keep a team of psychoanalysts happily engaged for decades. It’s a beautifully orchestrated, lyrically wistful, piano and strings-driven stroll through a winter forest of melancholia. Welcome back, David.

If this song out of nowhere isn’t enough to leave one breathless, there’s also a new studio album called “The Next Day” (his first since 2003), to be released on March 8 (Australia) and March 12 (U.S.) on Columbia Records. The album will feature 14 songs, and a deluxe edition will include three bonus tracks. No word yet on if there will be any tour. His last stage performance was at a New York charity concert in 2006. In other Bowie news, Victoria and Albert Museum in London will have a major exhibition dedicated to him, which opens on March 23.

This is going to be quite a year.

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