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David at the Dorchester 2/2
   

Back at the Dorchester: Part 2 of
CHARLES SHAAR MURRAY'S interview with DAVID BOWIE

THE STORY SO far: Lord Ziggy and his pals are holding court at the Dorchester, drinking, looning, doing interviews and generally having a day of good jolly superstar fun.  In addition to getting her midriff bitten by Lou Reed's manager Ernie, Lady Ziggy (alias Angie Bowie) had fun by sinking her teeth into the generously proportioned left breast of American rock historian Lillian Roxon. Among a welter of other happenings which even Lou Reed doesn't want to discuss, this reporter (a shy, young small-town kid bewildered by such extravagant debauchery) continued his epoch-making interview with David Bowie. We enter the conversation after David Bowie and Lou Reed had conducted what Ziggy described as "the shortest interview on record"

BOWIE: I like to see people pretending

MURRAY: You retired after "Space Oddity": Would you ever do it again?

BOWIE: I can't envisage stopping gigging for the next year at least, because I'm having such a good time doing it.  I've never enjoyed it more.  I feel I'm one with the band I'm working with and that hasn't happened before for me.  I've always felt I was dragging people into doing things.  I had a band once before which had the same lead guitarist.

Yeah, I saw you work at the Roundhouse once with Country Joe about two years ago.

That Roundhouse gig was the kind of thing I cite, in that I was into something there that the band wasn't into.  They were very much still only wanting to be musicians at the time, and it came off as no more than everybody dressing up.  Was that the one you came to where I was wearing a silver superman suit?

You weren't.  You did "Cypress Avenue"

We did one at the Roundhouse about the same period when we appeared very much the same as we are appearing now, and that was with Mick Ronson.   I was in a cartoon strip and we all dressed up as a different super hero.

Who were you?

No one in particular but superhero type figures.   We had silver suits, the thing I used to wear for "Space Oddity", that silver cat suit which is exactly the same as this.  It hasn't changed at all in three years, if you think about it, but its different material.  I was in silver lame and blue silver cloak and silvered hair and blue hair and the whole thing, glitter everywhere.   The whole thing was on that scale.

Were they ready to cope with it at the time?

No, they weren't.  We died a death.  And, of course, the boys said look, I told you so, lets get back to just being a band again.   That's the period that broke me up.  I just about stopped after that performance, because I knew it was right, I knew it was what I wanted to do, and I knew it was what people would want eventually.  I didn't know when though, so I held on.  I knew it would happen, because I've always been excited about seeing things that are visually exciting and its always knocking me out.  I like seeing people pretending.  I have a great imagination.  I'm not a vegetable.   I like to let my imagination run wild and I thought, well if that does that to me, it has to do it to other people as well, cause I'm just a person.  I'm not quite that much of a superman.  And, anyway, I'm glad I stuck it out really.

Could you name four or five specific records that influenced you early on?

Yes Alley Oop by the Hollywood Argyles - just a feeling that came from it. I'm afraid I'm not very technical on things like that and all I can say, at best is that it was a feel that I had an empathy with.  I don't know what it was whether it was the zanniness of the record or what.

Is that the one abut the caveman?

Yes, and that was Kim Fowley as a matter of fact.  He was the Hollywood Argyle that did it, and I loved parody because...

Zappa?

Yes, I admire Zappa but there again I prefer Charlie Mingus.  I like my parody to be a little softer because I'm a pacifist person by nature and hostility in any form, even on a mental level, I find not endearing.  I think Zappa may have a problem with feeling that he was not accepted on a Mingus level and he had to find himself an audience.  I don't think he's ever forgotten that.

But "Pithecanthropus Erectus" is not quite the same as Brown Shoes Don't Make It?

Well, that's the strength of my view on parody.  I'm a softer person by nature. I'm not hostile.  I don't believe I'm an aggressive performer either.  I like the situation that seems to develop with the audience which is generally on a very human level and they're quite friendly.  Its neither screamy nor rebellious: it just has a good feeling to it.  I love my audiences.  I think I've not been to too many gigs, where the feeling is not nice.  Its a very warm feeling I get from audiences.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't there one cut on Man Who Sold The World that is a parody of Marc Bolan?

Oh yes. yes.  That was Black Country rock.  I Bolanised it.   I do that to a lot of people.

Apart from the obvious one, Queen Bitch, which of the others are notably paradoic.

I did a lot of Newley things on the very first album I made, Love You Till Tuesday.  That's a very strange album.

Has it been reissued?

It will be.  Its been out once.  They brought it out when I had Space Oddity, but it didn't do so well.  I expect they'll bring it out in a few weeks time.  I guarantee they'll bring it out. Other songs: D'you want some more songs? Of course Waiting for the Man, I'll have to say that one.  In fact a lot of Lou's material.  Especially that one because it sums up a lot of his early writing and his writing has changed considerably since those days.  I think his new material on the album that we gonna do will surprise a lot of people as well.  Its miles different from anything he's ever done before on Waiting for The Man I think Lou captured, for me better than anyone else, the feeling of New York, that particular area of New York that he was living in and those times.

The other great New York record of our times is Summer In The City

Yeah, I agree with that.  I was a devoted fan of the Spoonful.   I loved them.  Another record was the Mingus "Oh Yeah" album, particularly "Ecclesiastic" which I drew an enormous amount of pleasure from.   I felt it very 1990s - very 2001 - that whole album.  I was into that sort of jazz.  Before Santana came, I was into the English scene and I was never able to relate to that stuff because of my earlier interest in Coltrane and Mingus as well.   A lot of Zappas things flatten me actually.

Any of Zappa's stuff make it with you?

We're Only In It For The Money, because I mean I saw huge potential in that area for Zappa, but I don't understand Zappa and I'm not that intrigued by him to try to unwrap his problems or try to find out why.

Were you ever tempted to get into James Taylor thing of autobiographical songs?

Yeah I had a spasm of that but thank God I got out of it.

Out of all your material with which songs do you feel most comfortable. D'you ever listen to any of your stuff and think that you could have done it better if you'd done it later?

Oh yes, lots of times.  A lot of "Man Who Sold The World" although that was one of the best albums I made.  It was a whole traumatic period.

What's gonna be the next post-Ziggy development?  Have you started to think about a new album?

No, not at all.  I'm still totally involved with Ziggy.  I probably will be for a few months getting it entirely out of my system, and then we'll don another mask.

Thanks a lot, and I hope you and Ziggy will be very happy together.

Oh, no.  I hope YOU and Ziggy will be very happy.  Ziggy's my gift to you.

IT HAD been the last interview of a long day of raps, zaps and varied craziness, and I was keeping David from an immediate departure to enjoy a fortnight's holiday.  So we shook hands and said our farewells.  David's alright you know.  He may even be the "shining genius" his ads say he is.   Whatever he's a gas.  Long live Ziggy Stardust!  We needed him.

---This page last modified: 13 Jul 2002---

Ziggy Stardust Scarf (1973)