Getting back to writing after a hiatus- brief though it may have been- should be easy. Ideas and things to write about just keep popping into my head (sometimes they pop out again pretty quickly- a function of sleep deprivation, but these things happen) so there is SO much to draw from. I have even more just-started drafts in the dashboard than I did a few weeks ago, and I’m feeling a little bit like I’ve come down with a case of the distractions.
Which isn’t good.
Not on the eve of NaNoWriMo (I’m going to attempt to divide my focus and get some work done on the fiction, in addition to keeping up with my peeps here at the WordPress. Might be overly-ambitious, but never know ’til you try and all that) and not when I have a newly-minted-and-purchased novel by one of my fave mystery authors (Elizabeth George, if you’re curious) which is just perfectly timed for curling up away from the Autumn chill with a cup of tea and just getting lost with Lynley and Barbara for a bit.
So. Where to start?
Amid all the chaos of the move, it was a FABULOUS period of music/reminiscing, this week just past. There was the reunion with Simple Minds last Tuesday, and then on Saturday one of my best buds took me to see David Bowie Is at the AGO. Phenomenal.
In the way that everything seems to be connected (that synchronicity thing again), after wandering through the wonder-and-constant-innovation-that-is-Bowie all afternoon Saturday, I caught Iggy Pop on the radio (I rarely listen to the radio these days- too much commercial crap IMHO) not once, but twice.
While taking a breather from the packing/unpacking I started a post lauding all that Mr. Jones has contributed to the world- ripples (and sometimes tsunamis) of influence that have shaped our (popular) culture as we know it. The characters, the costumes, the bending and breaking of rules of identity/gender/art… the beautifully curated exhibit really brought home just how important the Thin White Duke remains.
And man, can the guy write songs.
Once upon a time a veryveryvery long time ago, I wrote a stream of consciousness piece called ‘Talking to Ziggy’, about a protagonist who is in constant contact with the spirit of Ziggy Stardust. It was about what happens to a fictional character who becomes fully realized and then left to fade as newer characters take priority. Might have to try to find that… In any case, Bowie has been an everywhere influence in my life. It was wonderful to reconnect with him in my hometown art gallery.
But my loving chat about Bowie- and the characters that have become parts of our contemporary mythology- will have to wait for another time, because Sunday night another one of those connections showed up, and this one broke my heart a little…
Two days later, I’m still kind of at a loss for words. He’s always been part of the fabric of the background soundtrack of my life. Not necessarily the song that opens the film or plays as the credits are rolling on a particular period of my life, but a voice that is continually popping up here and there when the action is about angst, or disillusionment, or visiting NYC… and his underlying influence reaches even further into the music that constantly surrounds me.
Simple Minds did a cover version of Street Hassle (Waltzing Matilda/Slipaway) on Sparkle in the Rain.
Emily Haines, from our local wonder of a band, Metric, had some incredible things to say about the man and his influence on her own music.
He contributed his distinctive voice to Little Stevie’s movement against apartheid in South Africa.
He was a poet/novelist all his life- his writing was set to music rather than bound up as ink and paper. His words remain at once timeless in way that is seldom seen any longer and pictures of specific periods in history that inform about experiences and mores and the evolving technologies that changed the way we perceive and appreciate art and music.
Lou Reed and David Bowie overlap so often it’s almost ridiculous. Andy Warhol. All the co-productions/cross-productions/collaborations over the years. Bowie was London to Lou’s NYC. They were all about experimentation and pushing the boundaries of discourse.
The three dudes in the pic up there ^^^ have always been interconnected in my brain (admittedly, in part, because of Velvet Goldmine, but I digress…)
Iggy’s Lust for Life (written and produced by Bowie) is like Lou’s Walk on the Wild Side. Story songs about people- living on the edge and doing the best they can while dealing with demons and changes and societal conflicts.
Bowie’s Looking for Satellites (from Earthling– his first self-produced album since Diamond Dogs in 1974) is like Satellite of Love– from Lou’s Transformer album. Bowie produced and provided the background vocals.
Neil Gaiman, with his wonderful way with words sums things up in a way that completely resonates with my own feelings (as is so often the case):
“His songs were the soundtrack to my life: a quavering New York voice with little range singing songs of alienation and despair, with flashes of impossible hope and of those tiny, perfect days and nights we want to last for ever, important because they are so finite and so few; songs filled with people, some named, some anonymous, who strut and stagger and flit and shimmy and hitch-hike into the limelight and out again.
It was all about stories. The songs implied more than they told: they made me want to know more, to imagine, to tell those stories myself. Some of the stories were impossible to unpack, others, like The Gift, were classically constructed short stories. Each of the albums had a personality. Each of the stories had a narrative voice: often detached, numb, without judgment.”
If there were ever two exemplars of the point that I am constantly trying to make here at colemining about the importance of story and the many ways it impacts all aspects of our lives, as human beings with card-carrying memberships in communities, David Bowie and Lou Reed are the winners and still champions.
In the fog/fugue state of packing, I squirrelled away all my CD sets into storage- including Bowie’s Sound + Vision, and my boxed set retrospective of pretty much everything Lou Reed has ever done. Right now I’m wishing I’d labelled the boxes better so I’d have some kind of idea where they might have ended up. Will have to settle for the YouTube and those songs in the iTunes library/on the Shuffle Daemon to take me through this newest period of reflection and remembrance.
Travel safe, Mr. Reed. Somehow I thought you’d always be here.
I’m out of words right now, and ‘thank you’ seems overwhelmingly inadequate, but I’ll say it anyway.
Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on.
I don’t want to think about a world without Lou Reed. Thankfully, he left his music so that I’ll never have to. May he rest in peace.
I know, John. I am still sort of stunned. I really never thought about him being gone. But his songs and his influence remain. May they always. Thanks for reading!
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[…] not as part of the Beatles- is doing there), overall, I’m not sure I can find much fault. Lou Reed? Not a question. Especially in light of the fact that we lost him a little over a year ago. His […]