The Next Day(vid Bowie)

IMG_0579If I were David Bowie, I think I’d just stop right now; throw in the towel; call it quits; go live the rest of my days with my wife in Barbados, whilst resting upon my well deserved laurels.  But I’m not David Bowie.  If I were David Bowie, there would probably be more people reading these blog posts. {As far as I know, one reader is me, the other is my wife. I think that my dog may also be interested… she seems to be staring at me right now… though, as far as I know, she is illiterate.} So really, by talking about David Bowie’s new album, I am really just taking the opportunity to talk about myself.  What are “reviews” anyway except people sitting around by themselves, listening to music alone, wishing they were listening to music with someone else, so they could say things like, “Check out that awesome guitar tone, man.” Or, “This totally sounds like (insert favorite Bowie album here).” Instead they use some record they like as a springboard to coax some stranger(s) into their world.  Does this mean I’m going to stop writing about music?  No, definitely not.  Does this mean I’m going to stop reading reviews?  No, most likely not.  But let’s face facts here friends:  Whenever someone writes about an album like David Bowie’s new one (The Next Day), what are they really saying?  They are saying: Here’s what makes me feel nostalgic.  Here are the periods of Bowie’s career I most resonated with.  Here’s what I think is cool about David Bowie.  Heroes was the first album I had sex to.  Nothing makes me feel like I felt the first time I heard Ziggy. I stopped listening to Bowie after Scary Monsters. Etc. etc.  If you don’t believe me, go check it out for yourself.  Read one of the, now, thousands of reviews about The Next Day.  Really look.  Are they talking about Bowie, or are they talking about their own little self?

Here’s why I said that Bowie should throw in the towel:  I believe that Bowie has just created a near perfect record.  At 66 years old that is quite an accomplishment.  If I were Bowie, I’d quit while I was ahead.  But again, for the reasons stated above, and for a few others (two, to be precise) that I could use to testify my sanity, I don’t think that I am Bowie.  Here’s the question:  Can I insert more than 50 colons into one article?  I now have 390 some odd words and I already have three colons.  Here’s the real question: (four) Can we truly talk about the merits of Bowie’s new album without referring to either his past or our own?  Here’s another question: (five) Is the query above a reasonable thing to ask?  I’m sure you see the dilemma here.  The nature of music, especially pop music, disallows objectivity.  In writing about The Next Day, I might as well just say,  “I really like this album a lot.  As a matter of fact, I love it.  It makes me feel happy/sad/sexy/angst-y/alive/like a fish/ heterosexual/ hungry… As a matter of fact I’m going to now tell you to go out and: a) buy this album, because ripping music is bad for the artist; b) rip this album because buying cd’s is bad for the environment; c) have a listening party with your friends because it creates community and that is what will save the world…”

So here is what I actually have to say about your relationship to the new David Bowie album:   (                  )  I have no freaking idea what you will think of the new David Bowie album.  Why?  Because I am not you.  Heroes was not the soundtrack to my first sexual foray.  The first time I heard Ziggy I was higher than a kite.  I do know that Low changed my life.  I never heard music the same again.  I can say with a fair degree of certainty that I was utterly forlorn when I heard Let’s Dance.  Every time I saw the cover of that record for the first year after it hit the stands, I threw up in my mouth a little bit.  However, if you care in the least what I think of The Next Day, I’ll say this:  I think it is a damn fine album, one of the finest albums he’s produced in years.  Is that an objective opinion?  Hell no, it isn’t.  It isn’t because of the argument I so skillfully weaved in the paragraphs above.  It is impossible to be objective when it comes to music.  It is far too personal.

In this day and age, we all have a soundtrack to our lives…

Perhaps we all leave behind a sort of sonic footprint, said soundtrack, written in the stuff of the noosphere, that so purely expresses our inmost soul that, if it were to be congealed again into the material world … well, there we would be – in all of our humanness, our opinions, our history, our longing for a future with the same pleasures as our past… So what can I objectively say about music?  I can say this:  it is as necessary to our existence as breathing.  It is a variegated jewel that is so utterly human in its infinite creative possibilities, like a prism refracting a myriad of souls.  Here’s what I might say about the new David Bowie album.  Give it a listen.  See if you can refrain from comparison.  See if you can listen to it on its own merits… like nothing has ever preceded it … like nothing will come after.  Listen like this these words from Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (1897-1981):

 “What makes the present so different? Obviously, my presence. I am real for I am always now, in the present, and what is with me now shares in my reality. The past is in memory, the future — in imagination. There is nothing in the present event itself that makes it stand out as real…A thing focused in the now is with me, for I am ever present; it is my own reality that I impart to the present event.”