Bowie/Beatles comparisons

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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Tactful Cactus » 17 Apr 2017, 00:54

toomanyhatz wrote:A person that I work with who is transgender took part in a choral performance of Ziggy and it occurs to me that rather than anything Beatle-connected, that is a defining characteristic of Bowie - that he was was a representative for all the outcasts, rebels and misfits. The reason why he owned the 70s so thoroughly is that he was so apart from the mainstream, but so huge because he was relateable for everyone who felt like they didn't fit in. And after the 'everybody get together' 60s nobody realized just how huge a group that was.


Well put sir.

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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby sloopjohnc » 17 Apr 2017, 01:42

toomanyhatz wrote:A person that I work with who is transgender took part in a choral performance of Ziggy and it occurs to me that rather than anything Beatle-connected, that is a defining characteristic of Bowie - that he was was a representative for all the outcasts, rebels and misfits. The reason why he owned the 70s so thoroughly is that he was so apart from the mainstream, but so huge because he was relateable for everyone who felt like they didn't fit in. And after the 'everybody get together' 60s nobody realized just how huge a group that was.

The fact that he's largely to blame for the 80s is only forgivable in light of that.


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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Bent Fabric » 17 Apr 2017, 03:55

It's a comparison that might have - on the surface - irked me at one point in my life, but...as avatars for, respectively, the all powerful group gestalt vs. the lone singer songwriter* with a consistently evolving palate of top shelf collaborators and approaches, but always with his own name on the marquee/face on the LP jacket, I think they both work as deeply meaningful shorthand. I remember "a guy who left a reasonably popular band in the nineties and went solo" using the two of them specifically in an interview as his examples of both bands and more autonomous endeavors having equal validity and appeal

*(I'm not trying to make him sound like James Taylor or someone like that, but...he most assuredly sang and wrote songs)

There's an argument there, I suppose, that you could use someone like Bob Dylan or Neil Young or, I dunno, Prince or Stevie Wonder to signify that sort of "all powerful one man conduit"...but, it's not one that I'm dying to make, and in every case there is some qualifier. You get into the extent to which certain people exist "separate from each other", and the Beatles and Bob Dylan start to look like the chummy neighbors who are always loaning each other sugar or milk.

The differences are purely academic to me at this point in time. Partly BECAUSE of the Beatles and their aftermath, Bowie's peak occurred during a time in which the world of music was, I think, a great deal more splintered. No one could have the center stage to themselves with quite such prominence and ubiquity ever again after "the Beatles era". Which means that Bowie spoke to millions and occupied (occupies) the fan in a not inconsiderable way, but - as many have stated up-thread - he somehow existed a fair distance outside of the center of the spotlight. He was a stadium act for most of my life, and yet - it still felt cultish to discuss his best work with people. At the point that I started really diving into his work, it was clear to me that there were plenty of people (mine and my friends' parents and their generation) who lived through "the Bowie era" who really did not relate - it seems safe (and almost euphemistic) to say that not every person who owned a Savoy Brown record also had Alladin Sane.

There are a lot of potential tangents here, and...maybe we will or won't get to them, but...the original premise of the thread? No, I don't resist it at all.

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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby nebeprisikiškiakopūstlapiaujančiuosiuose » 17 Apr 2017, 11:28

DADDY-O wrote:Is there anyone here who resists the idea that Bowie did for the 70s what the Fabs did for the 60s?


Moleskin wrote:Except that Bowie was never the commercial colossus, was he? ...and that was part of the charm of discovering his music. It was like joining a secret society.


Bent Fabric wrote:...Bowie...somehow existed a fair distance outside of the center of the spotlight. He was a stadium act for most of my life, and yet - it still felt cultish to discuss his best work with people. At the point that I started really diving into his work, it was clear to me that there were plenty of people (mine and my friends' parents and their generation) who lived through "the Bowie era" who really did not relate.



In the aftermath of his death, in the UK at least, you really did get the sense that the majority of music fans in general were grieving.

I'm interested in the way Bowie managed to release several uncompromising records and still be regarded as an absolute giant of popular music. His very last LP was a fucker to sit through and yet sold millions.

The fact that he span the two plates skillfully and simultaneously throughout his career might be his greatest achievement. It reflects well on the listening public as well as on him - the fact that we're quite willing to be pulled leftwards into some dark areas. It's just that most artists don't bother to do that.
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Diamond Dog » 17 Apr 2017, 11:32

Even people that didn't like Bowie's music got his importance though - I was moved at least as much (in fact probably more) by the sheer number of 'non fans' that were incredibly respectful after Bowie's death. I think that's a true testament to how high his value was to so many.
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby fange » 17 Apr 2017, 12:09

Bowie really did reach pretty much everyone, from the mad music obsessives like us to people who just like the odd song on the radio and have about 2 dozen cds/records, tops. He had enough popular and critical hits, and over a broad enough time span, to cross over from pop artist to musical idol. And much like the Fabs, he affected/influenced not just the music that people listened to but how they dressed and looked and felt about themselves and the world around them.
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Bent Fabric » 17 Apr 2017, 14:50

DADDY-O wrote:In the aftermath of his death, in the UK at least, you really did get the sense that the majority of music fans in general were grieving.


Oh, yeah. Here as well - and there's any number of reasons why he might have seemed so "present" at the time of his (not expected by me or you or anyone else who didn't know him) death. Songs in movies, television programs, new records after a decade of silence, the travelling art exhibit of "his stuff"...

Maybe also, there's just something to be said for allowing the work to exist in the ether for that long - things like "Life on Mars", "Starman", "Space Oddity", etc. were all between 40-45 years old when he passed. If anyone had taken him for granted over the years, we were probably now collectively at a point in history where we'd have killed for music of that quality, character and depth (not to sound like a grandad, but we're talking about...in terms of popular music..."the period in between Adele albums"). It's almost as if his work had managed to self advocate increasingly over the years (it's happened on different scales - I seem to remember various points in history where some present day context occasioned a sort of collective appreciation of legacy artists like Neil Young or Ray Davies).

DADD-O wrote:I'm interested in the way Bowie managed to release several uncompromising records and still be regarded as an absolute giant of popular music. His very last LP was a fucker to sit through and yet sold millions.

The fact that he span the two plates skillfully and simultaneously throughout his career might be his greatest achievement. It reflects well on the listening public as well as on him - the fact that we're quite willing to be pulled leftwards into some dark areas. It's just that most artists don't bother to do that.


For sure - and I think that also adds to his cache. I certainly don't sit around listening to "Bowie's most difficult dozen" for pleasure, but...the very existence of that music undeniably gives him a perceived edge. He'd contributed so many "standards" to the canon that he could veer off into more obscure territory time and time again without anyone batting an eyelid. You think of, I don't know, Bon Jovi on one end and Scott Walker on the other - if we're looking for totems of - respectively - unbridled cynical careerism vs. pure eccentric cultish experimentation, and David Bowie always seemed to be consistently steering the car almost instinctively away from either of those margins. Some of the dafter things he did - Tin Machine, Earthling, doing a "no hits" enormo-sheds tour following the then-at-their-most-massive Nine Inch Nails onstage - may now make a certain strategic sense as we retroactively discuss them in some larger context, but...the guy really had balls of steel.

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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Quaco » 17 Apr 2017, 17:49

His music has always sounded "Beatle-esque" to me, the chord changes, the sounds, the melodies, so I've felt this connection between the two from day one. That there were additional connections -- particularly with Lennon ("Lennon's on sale again", the stripped-down POB-style "Space Oddity", Lennon's work on "Fame") plus the Ken Scott connection -- made it even stronger. He's as close to "Beatles" as Elton or Harry. Bowie is sort of like the uncle who isn't around quite as often because he lives out-of-state, but is still one of the four brothers.
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby nebeprisikiškiakopūstlapiaujančiuosiuose » 17 Apr 2017, 17:51

Quaco wrote:Bowie is sort of like the uncle who isn't around quite as often because he lives out-of-state, but is still one of the four brothers.


:)

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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Darkness_Fish » 17 Apr 2017, 20:21

DADDY-O wrote:I'm interested in the way Bowie managed to release several uncompromising records and still be regarded as an absolute giant of popular music. His very last LP was a fucker to sit through and yet sold millions.

The fact that he span the two plates skillfully and simultaneously throughout his career might be his greatest achievement. It reflects well on the listening public as well as on him - the fact that we're quite willing to be pulled leftwards into some dark areas. It's just that most artists don't bother to do that.

I think there's an element of the uncompromising to Bowie in his early days, although it might also be just an element of the "not knowing what sells". I mean, he was desperate to be a pop-star, had his hit with "Space Oddity", and then released an album as odd as The Man Who Sold the World. It just really doesn't make sense giving his years of trying to be a success. I'd have thought the majority of his 'uncompromising' releases came after a decade of well-selling dross, when it didn't really matter what the public thought, he had more than enough money to keep himself and his family well-heeled for life. I think we can be a bit quick to beatify an artist after their death, or long after their most egregious commercial sins.
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Diamond Dog » 17 Apr 2017, 20:37

It's pretty well known that Bowie actually didn't start making 'real' money until after "Let's Dance" (it was the reason for leaving MainMan management and RCA) so I don't think that really holds up, does it? I certainly don;t think albums like "Station To Station" and "Low" can in any way be seen as anything less than challenging 'for the time'... yes we love them now but, at the time, they were absolutely not what was expected (there are probably others people can name too).
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby K » 17 Apr 2017, 20:42

I think that's what D_F means. Rather than waiting until he'd made shedloads of money this man, who was desperate to be famous in the early days, released deliberately uncompromising albums fairly early on... he decided to be commercial for Let's Dance
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Darkness_Fish » 17 Apr 2017, 20:50

K wrote:I think that's what D_F means. Rather than waiting until he'd made shedloads of money this man, who was desperate to be famous in the early days, released deliberately uncompromising albums fairly early on... he decided to be commercial for Let's Dance

Not necessarily. I think in those early days, he didn't have much idea of what sold, I'm not sure he was meaning to be uncompromising or challenging at that point. He'd striven for success, got it, lost it, then got it again. I mean, by the time of Low he was certainly a major figure in Britain, with a great deal of financial security, but he hadn't hit the enormo-dome cash yet, and he hadn't really appeared to have a real genius for knowing what sold (at time of release). I don't really think of that era as being challenging or that different, though I'm obviously not really mainstream in taste, and looking back retrospectively with a knowledge of Eno, Kraftwerk, Kluster, etc.

I think when he genuinely didn't care what the public reception was going to be (Tin Machine, Earthling, etc), you can say then he was actually uncompromising, but that's easier when the bank vault is overflowing with your spare millions.
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Diamond Dog » 17 Apr 2017, 20:54

My point is that by the time of "Low" he certainly wasn't rolling in cash - it was the reason for the moves later on. He had been savagely ripped by his management team, and that carried on until "Let's Dance".
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Darkness_Fish » 17 Apr 2017, 21:00

Diamond Dog wrote:My point is that by the time of "Low" he certainly wasn't rolling in cash - it was the reason for the moves later on. He had been savagely ripped by his management team, and that carried on until "Let's Dance".

Yeah, fair point. It's just more about the idea of "uncompromising", the term seems to suggest a real single-mindedness of vision and ideal, and I think Bowie to some extent relied heavily on his collaborators to define the sound at that time. I'm not knocking that either, I wish more artists would play around with their sound more, even if that just means getting someone new in to force a change of style or direction.
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby Diamond Dog » 17 Apr 2017, 21:03

But I accept fully that by the time of "Let's Dance" was absolutely was looking to cash in - his words to Nile Rodgers were (and I paraphrase) "I want some hits".
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Re: Bowie/Beatles comparisons

Postby sloopjohnc » 18 Apr 2017, 00:21

As I understand it, Bowie wasn't doing great financially until Let's Dance and when he issued Bowie Bonds on his back catalog and immediately pocketed $55 million. They didn't do well for investors, but did for him, because he started selling the bonds on the cusp of the online music revolution.

http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/11/media/b ... royalties/

He sold 140 million records over his career so he couldn't have done that badly.
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