Bowie by Marc Spitz


Bowie: A Biography

Any biography with access to the subject is bound to be better than one that doesn’t. Spitz doesn’t have access to David Bowie, but he did interview a surprising number of Bowie’s: friends, family, and co-workers. Spitz’s writes Bowie into context of his times, and stylistically, but not always to good effect. Spitz isn’t afraid to ‘speculation’ on Bowie’s relationships and mental states, at times this was annoying.
I’m always looking for insights on the creative process, Spitz does a pretty good job of bringing in creative antecedents in Bowie’s art. Spitz covers the tours in some detail. A point I had sort of forgotten: that Bowie’s greatest artistic triumphs were on stage. The book ends before Bowie’s recent (and surprising) come by album, but covers Bowie’s retirement in some detail. It’s a good book and probably as good as we’ll get until David Bowie writes his autobiography.

448 pages

Amazon Book Preview of Bowie

Excerpts From My Kindle

In addition to being the town where David Jones came of age, Bromley is also the birthplace of Herbert George Wells, better known as H. G. Wells. Wells, the father of science fiction, often referred to as the man who invented tomorrow, was a progressive as well as a futurist. The Island of Dr. Moreau and The War of the Worlds upstage his essays and less imaginative works of fiction, but his novels Ann Veronica and The Passionate Friends championed the kind of liberated sexuality that David Bowie and his wife Angie would come to embrace over a half century later. – location 324-328

album cover

Back up singer and inspiration for “Heroes” by David Bowie.

Inside Hansa there was always the uneasy sense of being monitored, which might have contributed to the defiant emotionalism of the lyrics Bowie began to write (as well as the vocals he would soon deliver). One day, while staring out at the Wall from the studios fourth-floor window, Bowie spotted Visconti and his mistress, the singer Antonia Maas, sharing a kiss only a few hundred yards in the distance. He imagined the Communist guards, who stood constantly atop the checkpoint looking down on them, clutching their rifles. Bowie knew a bit about what life was like on the east side of the wall. He and Visconti had crossed the borderline as tourists and were familiar with the radically different way of life on the other side, how everything seemed to have frozen a quarter century before them, the cars, the fashions, the queer old Trabant autos. – location 5217-5223 [About “Heroes

Professor Camille Paglia offers a counter-theory. Throughout the eighties, because of AIDS, a lot of punitive stuff was coming from gay activists. It was a period of censoriousness. If so and so does not fulfill the agenda for the socially approved message du jour then they’re a traitor. I hated that about gay activism. I follow the Oscar Wilde theory here, that the artist has no obligation to any social cause. The artist has an obligation only to art. This business of reading artists the riot act is what the Nazis did and what the Stalinists did. You’re asking art to serve a propagandistic purpose. Art is not a branch of sociology. Its not a branch of social improvement. Not a branch of the health sciences. Bowie, in my view, had no obligation to say I’m gay. His obligation is only to his imagination. Its the extreme view but I think, quite frankly, its the authentically gay view. The other view is from people who have driven a wedge between gay culture and the arts. Its the same attitude Gloria Steinem has about Picasso. Picasso was a bad man and therefore a bad artist? – location 5947-5955

Upon its release in the summer of 1986 Labyrinth failed to connect, raking in just twelve million dollars theatrically. It was a flop at the box office because its not a particularly good film, says John Scalzi, film critic and author of The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies. – location 6124-6126

Perhaps Bowie’s finest album of the 1990s is his most obscure. Bowie’s soundtrack to the 1993 BBC miniseries The Buddha of Suburbia, – location 6498-6499

But I loved Hunky Dory. It was unique and strange and very unorthodox. But if you tried to explain British music hall tradition to the executives, they just wouldn’t get it.* I was really disappointed I couldn’t do anything at Warner’s with him. I think later on in the seventies when I saw the thing build with Bowie, it all started to make sense to people. – location 3096-3099

[* This is an interesting thought. It might explain why British Rock is different (much better in my opinion) than American Rock. They come from slightly different backgrounds, which I did realize, and the businesses that promoted the music were different due to the geographical nature of a small island nation vs a large continental nation.


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