SUNDAY #94 – Bowie

I was alone in my living room back in Essex when I first heard the news David Bowie had died. My Dad & Brother left early for work, so when  I switched on the TV and saw the headline on BBC news, I felt cold.

My head was lead-heavy all day. I couldn’t concentrate properly at work, so I listened to Lauren Laverne’s special broadcast on BBC Radio 6 about the icon and tried not to cry. I thought about my Mum, who has loved him most of her life. As a teenager, she ran off to Milton Keynes with her friend to see him live, then got stranded and had to sleep at the train station. There’s not many people who are worth that kind of effort.

I’d only just got in to Bowie (even though friends had been recommending him to me for years) and I felt like my efforts to finally understand and love him had blossomed too soon. For months after the news, I’d get tearful when I got pissed up and heard ‘Let’s Dance’ playing out in a club or a bar. I felt silly for having such a strong reaction to the death of someone I’d never met, and who’s music I’d only been listening to for two years.

When someone like Bowie has such life-affirming appeal, it’s hard not to attach yourself to his ideas and his art. He has a song for every occasion, every emotion, every moment; even those gin-soaked few seconds in night clubs when you lose yourself and realise you still miss him.

Fortunately, his diverse and extensive discography means there’s always plenty of tracks to listen to, dance to, and be comforted by. Here are my favourites…

Lady Grinning Soul
The opening piano gives me goosebumps every time. I still pirouette around my room regularly to this. Aladdin Sane is probably my favourite Bowie album.

I’m Afraid Of Americans
An apt title and a belting chorus. The video shows Bowie being pursued by Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, who helped him remix the track.

Rebel Rebel
The red hair, the red trousers…got me (and my Mother) in a whirl.

Let’s Dance
Still makes me tremble like a flower.

Heroes
I defy anyone to not feel better after listening to this. I played it after I handed in my final Open University assignment and felt infinite.

Life On Mars
Still hooked on this piece of cinematic, sweeping, blue-eyeshadow wearing glory.

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SUNDAY #89 – Dead Souls

If you don’t agree that ‘Dead Souls’ is one of Joy Division’s finest musical offerings, then we’ll have to cease contact immediately. The ominous guitar riffs, brooding bass lines, and angry anthemic lyrics make my soul feel anything but dead when I hear the opening drum beat.

I don’t own a copy of Still, the compilation album the track is featured on, and it’s not the first place I heard it either. I was (and still am) obsessed with the film The Crow, and ‘Dead Souls’ is covered on the film’s official soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails (aka Trent Reznor). I thought Reznor had penned the track himself, and it wasn’t until I watched Control – Anton Corbijn’s 2007 biopic about Ian Curtis – that I realised my mistake.

Whilst Joy Division’s rendition of ‘Dead Souls’ is incredible, I still regularly listen to Nine Inch Nails’ version because it resurrects the feelings of sheer escapism I experienced the first time I watched The Crow. Whichever way you manipulate it, ‘Dead Souls’ sounds great; and there are two more cover versions of the track I can’t get out of my head either.

The first is a cover by one of my favourite new bands, Manchester post-punks PINS. They featured ‘Dead Souls’ on their recent EP Bad Thing because it sat comfortably with the record’s theme of bad dreams and nightmares, and I think the girls’ echoing vocals are as haunting and foreboding at Curtis’.

The final cover comes from soon to be industrial icon Hate Vessel (aka my older brother Joe). It’s probably not cool or good for his reputation for me to talk about him on this blog, but fuck it. He’s covered ‘Dead Souls’ and he’s done a blinding job. I only have this live video that’s on Facebook, but I think you’ll get the gist