“Changes Now Bowie”, the singer and the superman

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Álvaro Alonso

Updated:04/30/2020 01: 00h

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David Bowie’s legacy continues to be enjoyed and studied equally after four years have passed since his death. This 2020, an unpublished video made by Tim Pope of the song “Repetition” from the 1997 tour, while listening to the release scheduled for June 20, Changes Now Bowie, an LP or CD containing nine songs recorded by English in the Looking Glass Studios in New York in November 1996.

For the cover, a portrait recovered by the photographer is recovered Albert Watson in that same city. He was accompanied by Reeves Gabrels on guitar and vocals, Mark Plati on programming and keyboards, and Gail Ann Dorsey on bass and vocals.

Although the recording served to celebrate the artist’s fiftieth birthday on January 8 of the following year, when it was broadcast in its entirety by the BBC, these nine performances had never been released on disk. These are already known songs, to which we must add a version of the Velvet Underground that I had recorded for the insurmountable Beep Sessions of John Peel in 1972. One of the virtues -although not the most important- of these new versions lies in the sound cleaning and Bowie’s vocal containment.

Yes Nirvana, emblem of the grunge, had honored him by choosing for his famous unplugged“The Man Who Sold The WorldIt is now Bowie himself who attacks his own 1970 classic with those magical arpeggios that he created with Mick Ronson. The fantastic atmosphere, flying over a Persian carpet, continues with Aladdin Sane, from 1973, urging us to admit from the Swiss cantons of Upper Egadina that “the worth of a man is measured by the amount of loneliness he endures.”

Attack next White Light / White Heat, on the pulse of programmed rhythms and a discreet guitar, letting the voice of the White Duke be the protagonist.

Bowie’s admiration for Velvet, the Factory and Andy Warhol reappears soon after, when he selects the song “Andy Warhol”, of Dana Gillespie, which he published in Hunky dory. That same 1971, he went to the Factory to sing it live. He was received by Warhol himself, who did not show the slightest emotion. Not even for the flamenco guitar solo.

One of the surprises is “Shopping for Girls”, a subject of denunciation of sex tourism in Asian countries that was hidden in his project as Tim Machine II, from 1991, and which now takes on a dreamlike and spectral character of great beauty.

What Nietzsche says

Bowie does not forget his partner, the other king of Glam, Marc Bolan, died in a car accident with only thirty years, to whom he dedicates his fabulous Lady Stardust, from 1972. Although, without a doubt, the most exciting thing is to discover that Bowie’s obsession with the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche -which haunted him from the beginning-, remains in at least three songs. The most obvious is “Supermen”, who closed his disc The Man Who Sold The World.

The relationship with the Nietzschean superman materializes in a dialogue where, faced with the idea of Zarathustra and his speech, and even starting from the same internal struggle, a different resolution is obtained. Thus, the man who embraces the instant, the sense of the earth, is now the free thinker in danger. The inversion of morality is understood as sexual liberation, a kind of joy shared with all humanity.

Bowie is the new Zarathustra coming down from the mountain, and his message in Quicksands It is clear: the will to power that we carry in the saddlebags scares us because, as heroes, we still see ourselves as humans, too human. Nietzsche’s teachings have had a profound influence on Bowie’s first three albums, represented here. Ideas like revaluation of securities, the superman and the freethinker against the free spirit prevail through the lyrics of the songs.

Essence Defenders

It is not by chance that he chooses the English “Repetition”, a song from 1979 that closed the call Berlin trilogy with Lodgers. There he denounced the false, abusive relationships of the defenders of debilitating values ​​who embody the spirit of flock facing the creator of new values. Bowie was not the only one nor the first, but he was the one who best embodied the transformation towards the superman, in a continuous mutation of skin, aesthetics and even voice.

More than a forced leitmotiv, Zarathustra’s message is the secret thread that runs through his entire discography, a struggle that Bowie knew how to face -like the German romantic- from the aesthetic absolutism, originating cultural movements such as proto punk before something like that could have even been dreamed of.

And so, at the crossroads, thinking, this artist leaves us meditative. The disc is finished. Will there be life on Mars?

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