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Heroes: Confessions of Late-In-Life David Bowie Fan

Heroes: Confessions of Late-In-Life David Bowie Fan

Music

David Bowie "Heroes"

Am I the only person who has observed that the popular songs that used to be labelled “rock”—or even “hard rock” music—in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, now sound like show tunes when compared to the apocalyptic drone of EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and the bland, autotuned pop that predominates today?  Old rock songs just had a lot more music in them; more melody, harmony, complex background vocals, changes of time signature, and soaring tenor and baritone voices over heavily orchestrated choruses.  I realize all this may sound rather curmudgeonly, but that doesn’t trouble me.  After all, I’m a critic.  It’s my role to be disgusted and lippy and, truth be told, some things actually were better then.

bowie

It’s not that the old songs have changed, but my perception of them has.  This explains why I’ve spent more and more time looking backward as I move forward.  There’s so much I missed the first time around because my ears weren’t ready.  1000 listens to Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall before the age of 12 will slow you down in the Led Zeppelin department.

David Bowie is another excellent case in point.  Of course in the 1970s I knew his hits that crossed over to Top-40 radio, like Fame, Golden Years and Young Americans, and by the 1980s, say from 1983’s Let’s Dance forward, Bowie and I were completely on the same page.  But recently I’ve gone back and dug deeply into the classic albums that I was less familiar with and I must say, the music is amazing.  Though I knew Ziggy Stardust and Station to Station pretty well from the 1980s, as of late I’ve been fairly obsessed with Heroes (1977), which to me sounds like nothing as much as a very hip Broadway musical or movie score.

When something old is new to me, I pretend that it is a new album that just came out, which makes me feel much better about what really just came out.

Here is a music video of Bowie singing the title song from Heroes back in 1977.   It is still quite captivating—even features his original snaggle teeth.

 

3 Comments

  1. Joe Razzano
    October 18, 2015 at 11:58 pm
    Reply

    Hello,

    I arrived here by clicking the article you recently posted on the “You Know You’re from East Brunswick” page.

    I know this comment is almost 3 years late, but if you like Heroes you should definitely try its immediate predecessor Low. Don’t know if you’re still exploring DB, but the early albums Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane, plus Scary Monsters (1981), and the more “recent” albums Outside and Heathen are all well worth checking out. Bowie is one of only a few rock musicians who has remained relevant for 5 decades (imo).

    Whoa, I just read your bio! There’s probably nothing I can tell you about Bowie that you don’t already know. Take care!

    • David Munk
      October 23, 2015 at 1:48 am

      Hi Joe,
      I really appreciate your comment and Bowie recommendations. There’s a lot I can learn from many people about many things, that’s for sure. I love “Scary Monsters.” “Low” is the one he recorded in Berlin, right? I was aware that he had released several excellent CDs recently (I have the one with the song with the Tilda Swinton video). The more contemporary music sucks the more I just look backward where I am so often rewarded for my efforts.

      Fact is, there is so much less music in the music today that Led Zeppelin almost sounds like musical theater to my ears – there is so much musical depth.

      I hope you’ll stay in touch and thanks for checking in.
      David

  2. Joe Razzano
    October 25, 2015 at 7:16 pm
    Reply

    Hi David,

    Yes, Low is part of what’s considered Bowie’s “Berlin Trilogy”: Low>Heroes>Lodger. Both albums are worth checking out, but I’d start with Low.

    The song you’re referring to is from DB’s latest release, The Next Day (which features a defaced Heroes cover). I agree it’s excellent. Interestingly, I just read today that Bowie is releasing a new album in January! Great news for us!

    Take care,

    Joe

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