Interview: David Bowie, The Dame Speaks (NY Rock)

The following is a David Bowie discography of sorts (albeit an abbreviated one) from the mouth of Bowie himself.

February 1997

Ziggy Stardust

Bowie: "I think that [Ziggy] would probably be fairly shocked that, one, I was still alive and that, two, I seem to have regained some sense of rationality about life and existence."

Diamond Dogs

Bowie: "That was the first time that I played all the instruments myself on an album. I had just broken up the Spiders and didn't really want to entrust my music to another set of musicians at the time. So I tried everything myself on the guitar, drums, saxophone and synthesizers. And so it has a peculiarly idiosyncratic style. I find it very endearing, kind of remote and a bit scary."

Bowie: "They airbrushed the genitalia from the dog. It was by a French artist called Guy Peellaert, who was extraordinary. He put out a book called Rock Dreams in that period, which was a great take on his vision of rock artists. Unfortunately, that particular dog, the Diamond Dog, got castrated. It got returned now that it's out on Rykodisc -- he's with equipment."

Rebel, Rebel

Bowie: "'Rebel, Rebel' is just for me the funniest song. I can't, I just can't conceive how I wrote that now. I mean, I really must have felt that at the time but... Hot tramp, I love you so, don't give me grief. I mean it's really -- it's so flippant."


Low

Bowie: "The first time it happened to me that I got a real drubbing was on an album called Diamond Dogs and I think I was terribly knocked by that, at the time, because everything had been positively glowing up until that point. And it really felt like the end of the world to me, I think -- which was a pretty immature reaction to it. But looking back at it, three or four years later, I realized what a good album it was. And the same thing happened again in the mid-seventies with Low, which went on, of course, to be probably one of the most important albums that I ever made."

Bowie: "[Low] was a relatively straight album. It didn't come from a drug place. And I realized at the time that it was important music. It was one of the better things I'd ever written -- Low, specifically. That was the start, probably for me, of a new way of looking at life."


Heroes

Bowie: "At that time, with the [Berlin] Wall still up, there was a feeling of terrific tension throughout the city. It was either very young or very old people. There were no family units in Berlin. It was a city of extremes. It vacillated between the absurd -- the whole drag, transvestite night-club type of thing -- and real radical, Marxist political thought. And it seemed like this really was the focus of the new Europe. It was right here. For the first time, the tension was outside of me rather than within me. And it was a real interesting process, writing for me under those conditions."

Bowie: "There's something about Berlin. Always throughout the 20th century, it's been the cultural crossroads of Europe... There's an artistic tension in Berlin that I've never come across the like of anywhere else. Paris? Forget it. Berlin has it..."

Let's Dance


Bowie: "A number of people have said that album has in spirit the same feeling as the Young Americans album. I would agree but I think the balance has changed somewhat. On the Young Americans, I was so overwhelmed by the Philadelphia sound... that I was writing songs specifically to point out the rhythm & blues and soul elements."

Bowie: "This time around in Let's Dance, I thinks it's far more a case of my working with rhythm & blues to enhance the songs themselves. The approach is kind of the other way around from that of the Young Americans period."

Earthling

Bowie: "It's very important for me to be artistically successful first. For me, that means that every album that I make really should be fulfilling artistically. Even before it's released, if I feel negative about it, it's already a failure. If it's artistically pleasing to me and I play it a lot then I know it's a success and the commercial aspect of it -- that is something else entirely. I'll do all the commercial things. I'll do interviews and make videos and everything else that's necessary. But when I'm making the album itself, my priority is that it really pleases me and on the occasions that it hasn't, it has left me very despondent and feeling sort of as if I'm treading water."

Bowie: "For me, taking a new and exciting artistic avenue has always been my priority. I want to be able to continually surprise myself as an artist. I think if that element is not there, then things dissipate and you get into a sort of regularity of concept that becomes vegetating, if you're not careful. I think for me, personally, I have to really shake myself up musically every now and again to find out what it is that drew me to working with music in the first place."


More David Bowie on NY Rock:
David Bowie Live in Concert (Madison Square Garden, NY, Jan '97)

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