It's early 1976 and Punk is around the corner. We're waiting for Bowie's next move, but he's fucked on coke in Hollywood. Then, from nowhere, he gives us Station to Station...
Bowie’s on the box tonight. A play by Brecht called Baal. It’s bollocks. I give it twenty minutes and put Station to Station on the turntable. Remembering, surrendering the kindest cut and all that… Because despite shit films and worse television plays Bowie matters. Always has done. Always will.
Geoff Brad’s front room when we were kids. Hunky Dory, Ziggy, Aladdin Sane and onwards. Not always upwards but it was never anything other than stylish. Never uncool. Always looked up to him. Sat in Chris Ball’s barber’s shop getting a Bowie crop. Stars on our faces and glitter on our cheeks. With platform soles and platinum souls. To the school disco. Love in our hearts. Getting to understand girls, trying to understand girls. The girls liked Bowie. The boys liked Bowie. Even the heavy metal lot admired Mick Ronson’s guitar work and of course the soulies admired Young Americans.
Then when we were punks Low blew us away. But before that Station to Station made us fall in love. And tonight Station to Station reminds me of those early days falling in love. Kids. That’s all we were. Not grown men like now. Early nineteen seventy-six. Seventeen and in love with Anne and Christine, Cathy and Jo. Serious lads with seriously grown-out haircuts waiting for something to happen. Punk on the horizon but we are not to know that. Northern enclave and waiting for Bowie to make his next move. But he’s fucked up on cocaine. High in the Hollywood Hills.
Yet somehow, somehow he gives us Station to Station. A slab of pop with Golden Years and five other sensational tracks. One – Wild is the Wind – was a hit for Johnny Mathis! Sounds like a James Bond theme to me One for Connery. Connery playing golf in his Slazzy jumper and fucking glorious blonde girls that end up dead and covered in gold paint. Bowie crooning Wild is the Wind. Or announcing: “The return of the Thin White Duke throwing darts in lovers’ eyes.” Getting funkier and funkier and the funk begats the electronic-German sound via TVC15 and the beautiful Word on a Wing. This is Bowie off his fucking head, trying to make peace with God. Or sense of God. However when I was seventeen this was a song for the girls. A song for my latest girlfriend because the line: “In this age of grand illusion you walked into my life out of my dreams” is beautiful. Truly beautiful…
Still listening to Bowie. Still trying to do the hair the same, quoting Bowie lyrics to impressionable girls waiting for his next move…
Of course it wasn’t written to woo a young grammar school girl. It’s Bowie off his fucking tits looking for some answer. But back then it was about serenading Jo. Bowie being omnipresent in my life. In our lives.
Now six years later I see things differently. Know that he was fucked up and fucking about with fascism but boy could he sing and on Station to Station he sang like an angel. Sang like the wind.
Still he matters. Saw The Associates down the ICA the other year and those kids are Bowie freaks like us and now they are in the charts with Party Fears Two. Spandau, Joy Division, Magazine and the rest. And those kids down the Electric Ballroom, flicking their hair and the boys in the West Stand at Highbury all influenced by the Thin White Duke. Or Ziggy or that lad that was insane. Whether they know it or not.
Then when Station to Station ends I play Pin-Ups and I’m back in 1973. Rushing from school to town on the day it was released. Staring at the cover. Him and Twig the Wonderkid. Thinking of Wendy “with her long blonde hair and her eyes of blue” while sat in Muswell Hill. The home of Ray Davies and The Kinks as Bowie sings Davies’ song Where Have All the Good Times Gone. Life goes on. Keeps moving. Wigan to London N10. Still listening to Bowie. Still trying to do the hair the same, quoting Bowie lyrics to impressionable girls waiting for his next move but most of all remembering, surrendering… and of course Martin Fry and ABC owe everything to Bowie.
Mind you that Baal tonight was fucking shit…
This is an extract from Faded Lois Dreams – out Feb 2012 by My Only Vice Publishing
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