With legend singer/songwriter David Bowie’s passing my first impulse was to re-watch, countless times, Bowie make fun of Ricky Gervais’ character on the show Extras “…see his pug nose face, pug, pug, pug, pug…”soon Bowie’s album Diamond Dogs comes to mind as this is my favorite Bowie album and begins:
And… in the death as the last few corpses lay rotting on the slimy thoroughfare the shutters lifted inches in Temperance Building high on Poachers Hill and red mutant eyes gazed down on Hunger City no more big wheels fleas the size of rats sucked on rats the size of cats and ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes covering the highest of the sterile skyscrapers like packs of dogs assaulting the glass fronts of Love Me Avenue ripping and re-wrapping mink and shiny sliver fox now legwarmers family badge of sapphire and cracked emerald any day now-the year of the Diamond Dogs. This ain’t rock n roll, this is genocide.
The above is written on the inside of the cover and begins the record as Bowie reads then segues into the title song Diamond Dogs then Candidate, Sweet Thing, Rebel Rebel, 1984, Big Brother, and more. In 1974, at the tender age of 16 the song Rebel Rebel catches my ear as it is played over and over on rock n roll radio stations so sauntering into the student store of Lake Shore High School (my alma mater) I purchase the record just for the song. Straight home and up to my room , no time for hellos or chat, I tear off the tight cellophane wrapping and before it hits the floor the record is placed and playing on my cheap mono-record player. The poor quality, scratchy, and popping sounds (cheap player, cheap needle) didn’t matter for I was listening to Bowie’s Rebel Rebel, my very own part of Ziggy Stardust.
I still have the record 40 years later that has accompanied me from Michigan to Oregon to Southern California and back to Oregon showing some wear on the front in a circular pattern where the record rests inside, transparent tape holds portions of one side together, and splashed across part of the top left hand corner obscuring Bowie’s name is brown leather stain a reminder of a hobby once enjoyed. Listening to this apocalyptic album today “1984”and “Big Brother” stand out as the skies above are filled with Drones dropping packages, payloads, scenic views of nature and humanity. Bowie has produced many artistic changes with Space Oddity, Panic in Detroit, Time, Fame, Under Pressure that serve as markers in my life as in when this song came out where was I, what was my state of mind. A strange sensation that a big chunk of my life, a chapter if you will, concluded at the time of Bowie’s death and a new one is beginning.