In Bowie’s early hit Space Oddity, Major Tom the astronaut was marooned in the unknown realms beyond the moon; this quirky song – neither serious nor novelty record – was released as a single on three occasions during the seventies. And then, at the end of that decade, we found the Flamboyant One appearing on a TV programme (The Kenny Everett Christmas Show) performing a harsh, stripped-down version of this song. He began singing, but then abruptly abandoned the song after three lines, marching off the set and reappearing (twenty silent seconds later) in a sort of Kubrickinetical kitchen filled with exploding stylised appliances, where he resumed the performance. Bold, plain synth chords surged over a solid drumbeat – the same resonant rhythm that held together Life on Mars? eight years earlier.
This curious recasting of a classic song appeared, several months later, as the B-side of Alabama Song, another instance of Bowie’s frequent dabbling with proper culture.
Perhaps there is life on Mars, and it appears as tiny dark grains of proto-organic viral stuff just like my photos of the grim black spots of death on those metal squares. We may never know…
In the news; Jon Lord, keyboard wizard with Deep Purple and lots of other UK rock bands, has died from pancreatic cancer. He maintained that the best rock songs were comparable to classical orchestral music in their detailed construction and performance.
Journal Entry, 27 Jun 2002:
Never got to Surfex; a host of crossed messages about who was due to drive to the event.
Got letter about new MAG meeting in Stockport.
Had fax from Hubert C saying ‘no alkyd’. Why do we have to ask them these stupid questions?
Phone call from Simon P: party at his place on 3 Aug. He went to Farmyard Rally but didn’t enjoy it – too scruffy.
Just heard on Radio 2 that John Entwhistle has died; immediately following the news there was a brief silence, then with no introduction the DJ played the full-length version of ‘You Better You Bet’ which took me right back to my sixth-form days.