Fans and critics will undoubtedly spend the upcoming days debating which of David Bowie’s many memorable songs should be considered his very greatest contributions to the canon of Western Music. While titles like “Life On Mars?,” “Changes,” and “The Man Who Sold The World” will be bandied about, some consideration should also go to “The Little Fat Man With The Pug-Nosed Face,” an impromptu ditty with which the erstwhile Ziggy Stardust joyously serenaded Ricky Gervais on a memorable 2006 episode of Extras. In the episode, actually titled “David Bowie,” Gervais’ character, self-involved actor Andy Millman, is already starting to chafe from the notoriety he’s gained from starring in a hacky, catchphrase-laden BBC sitcom called When The Whistle Blows. Spotting Bowie in the supposed “VIP” section of a bar, Gervais’ character makes the spectacularly ill-considered decision to accost the musical legend. Then, with no prompting whatsoever, he proceeds to spill his guts to this unwitting stranger. A gentleman to the last, Bowie actually listens politely as Gervais whinges about his own, hopelessly trivial “problems.”
I love this story of how John Lennon came to work on David Bowie’s first #1 song, Fame.
By late 1974, David, having moved to RCA Records, had already recorded most of his ninth studio album, Young Americans, but the record was in a holding pattern while David went through the necessary legalities to break all ties with his shady management contract with Tony Defries. Staying in a New York hotel during this period, David had a little party that John Lennon, together with his girlfriend May Pang showed up for. Record producer Tony Visconti was also in attendance and recalled later that both John and David were high on cocaine and Cognac and while sketching caricatures of each other were having a dark discussion about “what does it all mean?” – with “it” being “life.” As a side note, it was at this party where May Pang first met Tony Visconti and the two would eventually marry in 1989.
After the party, the ice was properly broken between John and David and a week or two later in early January 1975, John got a phone call from David who explained he was at New York’s Electric Lady Studios working on a cover of John’s Beatles classic “Across The Universe” for his Young Americans album. Unbeknownst to John, Young Americans didn’t need any further material. David was apparently seizing the opportunity to get a Beatle on his record and make a replacement or two of some of the tracks – if it turned out okay, that is. John obliged David and came down to the studio to sing backing vocals and play acoustic guitar on “Across The Universe” with David and his band. John was later to comment that Bowie’s version of “Across The Universe” was the best one. After jamming with the band on a 1961 hit by The Flairs called “Foot Stompin’,” they teamed up with guitarist Carlos Alomar, who had been playing with David since the previous year, and the three of them wrote “Fame” on the spot.
I’m sad to hear that David Bowie died yesterday from cancer. He was an amazingly-talented musician and artist.
David Bowie, the self-described “tasteful thief” who appropriated from and influenced glam rock, soul, disco, new wave, punk rock and haute couture, and whose edgy, androgynous alter egos invited fans to explore their own dark places, died Jan. 10, two days after his 69 th birthday.
The cause was cancer, his family said on official Bowie social media accounts. Relatives also confirmed the news but did not disclose where he died.
With his sylphlike body, chalk-white skin, jagged teeth and eyes that appeared to be two different colors, Mr. Bowie combined sexual energy with fluid dance moves and a theatrical charisma that mesmerized male and female admirers alike.
A startup called Yondr is trying to sell concert venues on the idea of taking away their customers’ smartphones during shows. The company’s product is a bag that locks over the audience member’s phone, blocking it from being used unless taken to an “unlocking station.”
This idea is all kinds of wrong. As the reporter below describes, putting your phone into a bag will now make you obsess over the phone. Did it vibrate? If so, what was it? Guess what? Now I’m the distracted one, not the person who might have seen my phone’s display. And this happens to everyone else whose smartphone has been held hostage.
What if a desperate phone call comes in from the babysitter at home, but because my phone is kidnapped inside a Guantanamo-worthy hood I don’t hear/feel the call come in? Or what if I do but I can’t push the stoner metalheads out of the way to get to the “unlock station” in time to take the call? What if it’s a call to tell me my house is burning down? Can you say “lawsuit?” Continue reading →
Well, this was probably unavoidable. You are about to think some very dumb stuff about poetry, women, and dead Native Americans. This is a tradition, or affliction, that has been passed down to at least three generations of 17-year-old white boys and then foisted upon 15-year-old-white girls for just as many decades— girls your own age are way past this shit, stick with the sophomores. You are going to abuse the word “shaman” in ways that will violate international torture conventions. You’re going to think that something important and meaningful is happening to you, even though you haven’t left your room for three days. You are going to sit at the feet of the master of total self-regard, one James Douglass Morrison, the “Lizard King,” and think yourself the Prince of Salamanders and heir to a throne carved from your own bullshit.
This cheesy song was playing in an Anchorage gift shop yesterday and my family and I were rolling our eyes. I count myself lucky that I managed to avoid it for ten years.
Just another schmo who hoped that 9/11 would change everything…for his career.
It’s tempting to simply quote in full the lyrics from Darryl Worley’s crass-in attempt to tie together the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the run-up to the Iraq war. After all, its lyrics, which rhymed “forgotten” with “Bin Laden” and called for daily showings of the attacks on the World Trade Center, were the linchpin of its “appeal.” But to do that would be a disservice to the fine men and women of this country who have actually had to sit through the track.
The Psychedelic Furs play Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre.
Months ago, Kelly and I bought tickets when The Psychedelic Furs announced they’d be playing at Raleigh’s Lincoln Theatre. Last night was that night and I was on Cloud Nine. Kelly was initially ambivalent about going but once the Furs took the stage she really got into it.
I made jokes on Twitter about being in an older crowd and, truly, it was a more mature crowd. Richard Butler and his bandmates didn’t slow down, though, as the Furs played the many hits they’ve racked up over the years. What a show! The faces may be older and there might be some new bandmates, but other than that it could’ve been a Furs show in their heyday. Continue reading →
Most of the local news stories I’ve read about Google Fiber coming to Raleigh highlight the ability to “download YouTube videos quickly.” Quickly downloading the stuff you’ve always downloaded is cool, but it isn’t an Earth-shattering use case. The real value of Google Fiber is that Google treats the Internet the way it should be treated – like a two-way street.
Other broadband providers will sell you fast connections but those connections are strictly asymmetrical. You may get a 15 Mbps download speed but you’ll only get a 1 Mbps upload speed. You see, Big Telecom wants you to treat you as a “consumer,” meaning you’ll take whatever the media companies choose to give you. They don’t think of you as having anything to bring to the conversation.
Google Fiber is different. Not only can you get 1 Gbps download speeds, you also get equally fast 1 Gbps upload speeds! Your download and upload speeds are equal, exactly how God intended. You become a full partner in the Internet, able not only to download at blazing speeds a multitude of cat videos from YouTube but able offer up your own. Or, you can hold videoconferences with your friends without being interrupted by buffering. Or play video games with others without sluggishness. Continue reading →
This is a fascinating account of the version of “Jingle Bells” recorded by The Singing Dogs. I always assumed this song was from the late 1970s – big deal, someone sampled dogs and made a song. I was shocked tonight to find out it was actually recorded in 1955! I had no idea that this was such a groundbreaking song, launching the arts of multitrack recording and sampling. Who knew?
Let’s, for a moment, consider "Jingle Bells" as performed by the Singing Dogs. With jaded, 21st-century ears, it’s easy to dismiss as Yuletide kitsch. It topped a 2007 survey of most-hated Christmas songs, but there was a time when listeners marveled at it—Dogs! And they’re singing!
It’s time we give the Singing Dogs their due. Created in Denmark in the early 1950s by a self-taught ornithologist and released in the U.S. in 1955, the record marks a turning point in how we listen to music. I’ll explain.