Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

We can steal time.

THERE are some things that shouldn't be allowed.

Adding dried fruit to chocolate bars, for example, should be punishable by death. If I wanted manky fruit I'd eat some, but I don't, and worse still you've removed chocolate in order to give me grapes that have been on the floor. To the wall with you quick-smart, and no moaning.

Then there's people who just stand there. Whether they've got a pram or bags of shopping or just nowhere they need to be, they stand in doorways, at the tops of stairs, on the left of escalators and lurk against corners in order to catch people unawares. They have no idea of the people they block, they're having a nice natter or a gaze off into the middle distance oblivious to the bottlenecks they are creating in the normal ebb and flow of life.

These people should firstly be regularly kettled in order to save the human race from the effects of the low-grade frustration and anger they cause, and secondly they should never be allowed to drive.

But even worse than these things is a crime against the soul, such as when you turn on the telly and see Iggy Pop selling car insurance.

The most dangerous, dodgy, dirty, mostly-naked man in the world, the most interesting drummer there has ever been, urging teenagers to spend their savings on insurance? You might as well just give up, change your name back to James Newell Osterberg Junior and admit the whole thing was a farce.

Semi-naked protopunks taking their trousers off while bawling out Lust for Life do not do insurance. The man who said "If I don't terrorise, I am not Pop" does not give an arse for third party, fire and theft.


The angry, insecure and bookish teenager inside me may never have been able to be like Iggy but my adolescence was more bearable because there was an Iggy, somewhere, doing Iggy things that were exciting and edgy and different.

Seeing him sell car insurance is like visiting your childhood home and seeing it's smaller than you remember. It's looking at the massive hill you used to scream down on your bike and realising it's a gentle slope. It's like suddenly being told you were adopted - it makes you wonder what, exactly, you can still hold on to.

The Sex Pistols? Sid's long gone and Johnny sells butter. The Beatles? Best ones have karked it and Macca's done nothing I want to listen to since 1973. The Stones? They want every last penny your possess, but at least they're not flogging stairlifts.

Yet.

It's our fault, of course. As teenagers we invest our hopes and dreams in the people who make the soundtrack of our lives, so that song at the school dance, that hit which keeps playing on the radio while you dither at second base, the star you read about in the music press, becomes part of your personal playlist.

The song might be rubbish, it might have three chord changes and the lyrics were dashed off on the back of an envelope because their A&R man said "you owe your drug dealer", the people behind it might be utterly horrible, but teens don't care about that.

It's about the music, and the moment, and when something years later happens to tarnish that memory we have to face the fact we're grown up now, and if sleeve notes weren't a thing of the past we'd need glasses to read them.

They say don't meet your heroes, but they should add that your heroes should have the grace not to come and find you later. Some things improve with age, like wine (and writers, ha!) but singers always fade, artists run out of ideas, and David Bowie, I'm afraid, has got boring.

Yesterday his birthday coincided with the release of his first single in a decade, an event so momentous it needed to be covered by the Today programme, the BBC 10 o'clock news, and virtually every other bulletin in the Western world.

This is the man who changed the face of pop. He almost invented celebrity, gave the PR rules a good kicking, he had his own cult and just because its members are now, well, older than they were they are no less fervent in their worship of him.


And the song was pants.

The voice is thin, these days. The lyrics are as daft as ever, but for an innovative musician whose every creation is treated with the reverence of tablets of stone carved by God his first song in ages should blast us away, and instead we got a self-indulgent 4mins 34secs of mournful wail about Berlin.

All he has innovated this time is boredom, disappointment, and the sad realisation that he was more interesting when he was off his bonce on coke and smack. The cult won't like anyone saying it, any more than Scientologists let us laugh about lizard people and Tom Cruise, but had that dirge been produced by anyone else it would be laughed out of town.

Still, let's not be down. It's just the first single of a new album and there might be something amazing on the rest of it. There might be a song about frogs, or butter, or car insurance...

And even if that's rubbish too, well, we've still got everything else. All the songs we grew up with, snogged to, argued over, treasured, or turned up louder every time dad yelled at us to turn it down.

When you listen to the music that mattered to you then, you can steal back time and return to your youth, when they were heroes rather than faded old men whose mortality makes you feel cheated out of something.

Heroes simply shouldn't be allowed to get old, or sell out, or produce music that no-one can be bothered to ban any more.

Few people ever point it out, but heroes are just for one day.

 Car insurance lasts longer.

14 comments:

Andy said...

You'll upset the fans but it's true, the single is pants. Such blind allegiance is, frankly, worrying. Believing everything that an individual releases, as reverential and beyond reproach is actually quite disturbing. I'm sure Bowie would be the first to admit he's done some dodgy stuff in the past. Well said Foxy, it had to be said.

Nicki Kinickie said...

I totally agree. I hate seeing actors or singers I loved as a teen now podgy and grey haired. Paul Whitehouse and Martin Clunes (for example) were two of my faves with the fast show and men behaving badly and now THEY are both selling insurance. David 'Del Boy' Jason is elderly and wouldn't be able to even lift his suticase nowadays let alone run with it. There is no crime in that and no way of stopping it but it just reminds me that no matter who you are you are not immortal.

Stars of yesteryear trying to BE immortal just make it worse!!

Anonymous said...

Er, you really think yesterday's Bowie thing was boring and disappointing?

Still, top marks for realising that the new album probably won't be as good as Low or Ziggy Stardust.

Paul Griffin said...

100% agree Foxy, if anyone else had released it...no, hang on, no other artist would have been ALLOWED to release that! Utter rubbish, I sound better in the shower.

Anonymous said...

Listen to the song again. It grows on you.

Bercher said...

Music is just a business produced to sell like any other thing. You will only sell what you would buy yourself. Lots of old artists still perform for fans for nostalgia. Even though he's singing isn't as strong or edgy the fans will love it, Bowie's back, to them at least, maybe not to the youth of today. The youth might listen to it and see what their parents liked about it, for them they will go back to what is their thing of today, he might get new fans, why not? Yes he's old school for sure.

Alex T Hornby said...

Are you angry at Bowie, or the people who like the song just because you don't, and this is your only way of attacking them?

Tim Smith said...

Speaking as a young person I find all change to be frightening but even more so when it's old artists doing the changing. For crying out loud, unlike say youngsters like Mumford and Sons, Florence Slick and the Jefferson Air Machine, and the Jay-Zs, what does all of Bowie's life experience actually contribute? Eh? Go back to being Anthony Newley and singing about Lauging Gnomes Bowie! Everything after that is strange and makes me think stuff.

Patrick Neylan said...

They even said it sounded like "Low". "Bowie hits new Low" was certainly the headline I thought of.

I hope Eist├╝rzende Neubauten never try to cash in on their name.

SoapCo said...

After a day's reflection, I personally think Dave should have stayed schtum, we don't really deserve him.
I imagine a vast amount of the vitriol thrown at this only slightly above average singular song will not be coming from people who are helping innovative acts such as Factory Floor, Gaggle, Death Grips and Flying Lotus clog up the kaleidoscopic array of talent that is the 'charts' (bit of sarcasm there) but the same 'mature audience' who used to love a bit of old Dave and are now feeling nicely serene riding the zeitgeist-lite because they've got Richard Hawley and Elbow on their i-Pods now instead and are, via the interweb, now able to get some of their repressed musical critique out there in public at last.
If you drop Bowie out of the equation, modern Rock and Pop would tumble like a house of cards, this we owe him for.
Was it not just a mere few weeks ago we were all watching those extremely large sellers of concert tickets Coldplay at the Olympics with our jaws open at just how pompous, boring and shallow 'populist' Rock music has become and taking to Twitter en masse praying to God Bowie would jet in and liven things up?
Would have been interesting to see if the reaction to 'this' song that night instead of Mr Paltrow and Co belting out their soundtracks for a 'one world planet' (TM - Accounts offshore LTD). LOL, Nobody thinking straight would be reckoning Dave's going to change the world AGAIN are they?
Lastly, at least if you're going to bust on Dave, at least give old soaks like Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits the same treatment because if making reasonably solid records past your fifties is something of a crime these days, they're all 'well past it' now with their recent, less than wheel inventing output as well now surely?
Question is, was Bowie's hiatus induced by indifference to his last output?...We've seen One Direction and Rihanna become 'officially' bigger than The Beatles in the interim, if we send him back underground so promptly without him getting a proper pop at showing how good we really used to have it, we'll basically get stuck with what we deserve with the door closed behind it.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. And nor will anybody else's, be they 66 or 16.

Joe Daniels said...

Personally I like the song. I think the trick is to buy what the celebs offer (if you want) without buying into their celebrity.

mfretty said...

You are right it does grow on you the more you listen to it.

mrswupple said...

my dreams mustn't grow old.. Somewhere in the past dancing to the music is a slim young redhead, not the arthritic old crone with a stick. Leave my idols and my youthful daydreams alone. Hearing the music I can be young again. Confronted by an old man the illusion is shattered!

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