May 21/12

David Bowie

I've got tattoos on my breast
Cause you're the only one....

D. Bowie, Velvet Goldmine

Velvet Goldmine suggests the longing and expectations of infatuation. With its absolute focus on everything about that other person, it envelopes the listener in those tempting feelings that drown out the rest of the world.

Bowie was always very good at songs that focus on private reality. The listener of "Ashes to "Ashes", "Moonage Daydream" or even "Man Who Sold the World" is familiar with Bowie's personal quests. He accepts he's either alone, or else can find that unique other person to be with.

In Velvet Goldmine, reality is defined by feelings. Its haunting tones, however, gently warn of a different reality lurking beyond the affair.

Any serious Bowie listener knows that he is - or certainly was - a haunted man. Bowie's songs often focus on missed opportunities, but at the same time wonder if those opportunities really existed at all. His songs - often in first person - feature someone wary of being fooled by mirages, yet still on the hunt for gold. Watching him as a visiting alien in the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth reveals the isolation of the quester.

I have many good memories with Bowie playing in the car or in the apartment (in my early days). Now, Velvet Goldmine is my favourite song of Bowie's. Yet he's done so much other (really great) material, even bringing up a couple of examples is like shoveling into the snowbank that supports a waiting avalanche. One notable song is "Under Pressure" (1981) by Queen and Bowie. There are so many dozens of others, though, I wouldn't know where to go next.

Perhaps Bowie's music is the true Velvet Goldmine: a personal voyage of discovery into the work of one of the most prolific - and enigmatic - musicians of the last century.

Wikipedia was a source - here and here.

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