Posts Tagged David Bowie

Moonage Daydream (2022)

Director and writer Brett Morgen starts his film with an interesting choice. He does not show the chronological events of Bowie’s life. He instead starts with a song from 1995, “Hallo Spaceboy.” This song is played over old footage of Ziggy Stardust-era Bowie and fans. This sets the tone for the rest of the film which is overwhelming.

Not a normal documentary but an immersive experience

David Bowie’s music, paintings, ideas, influences and interviews from over 50 years of his career are all put together in one glorious collage. I kept thinking of a Kaladeiscope toy I had when young. The film has a dreamy, trippy quality and though over two hours long I didn’t notice the time going.

Morgen dispenses with music talking-head doesn’t include interviews with friends, family, critics, or associates. This is a film centred on Bowie himself and his is the main voice we hear. The only over voices come from fans and interviewers, Mavis Nicholson, and a cringeworthily bitchy Russell Harty (Psychiatrists could probably ponder for hours his antipathy to Bowie).

Much of the criticism of the film is, I think, based on some fans expecting a standard documentary format. This film doesn’t follow that. It’s not a concert film either, although it does have some live concert footage. There are loads of previously unseen clips and lots of unheard mixes of songs.

Those looking for each period of Bowie’s life to be reprented fully or equally will be disapointed. Essentially The periods mainly covered are Ziggy/ Aladin Sane, Berlin & his sad but interesting experiment with commercialism in the 80’s.

Morgen uses image, music, and editing channel Bowie more than explain him. It’s ambitious approach that I think David, the artist and innovator, would admire.

Morgen is successful in communicating the essence of David Bowie’s creative work in a way that is unique and interesting. He uses sound and vision together to create a movie that immerses the viewer in Bowie’s creativity. At times its overwhelming. All this is done in a way that is true to Bowie’s own unique style.

Bowie was ahead of his time in terms of understanding the power of pop culture to shape who we are and how we see the world. Throughout his career, Bowie pushed the boundaries of what pop music could be, constantly experimenting with new sounds and styles. One of the things that made Bowie so unique was his interest in the surface details of our throwaway pop culture. He believed that these details could express profound and radical ideas. For Bowie, the disposable culture of the mainstream was a source of critical inspiration.

Morgen shows how Bowie reflected on his own existential and spiritual development. He tried to find meaning in a world where everything is temporary. There are some fascinating contributions from Bowie on some very deep subjects (such as our understanding of time and attitudes and approach to chaos).

Bowie also played with and re-presented his identity a lot. Sometimes Bowie seemed lost and sad – an outsider. He struggled with addiction at times. He said himself that he never identified with the mainstream. Morgen reveals what Bowie was – a genius and a prophet, a seeker of Truth. Bowie was remarkable in that he could understand and engage while still standing apart. Bowie never stopped expressing his creativity and his output from this, in so many different forms, alone shows the energy he had. Bowie was emotionally, creatively and spiritually happy at the end of his life as the film makes clear. As a Bowie fan and admirer I was very satisfied by that.

There are not many films I would pay to see twice but this is one of them. I don’t think I will ever fully understand Bowie, he was incredibly complex and not always consistent! Yet this film made me fell closer to his spirit.

Reviewed by Pat Harrington

Watch the trailer here. Listen to this review at YouTube.

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Lyrics to Live By Keys to self-help – notes for a better life

IT’S often said that the best ideas are the simplest. And this is certainly the case with the idea behind Lyrics to Live By. Indeed, I’d go as far as saying that the idea behind the book is so simple it’s absolutely brilliant.

So what’s the idea, what makes it so simple and why is it literally a stroke of pure genius?

The idea’s so simple because it relates to something that we probably do every time we hear a song – and that’s to sing along to it and wonder what some of the lyrics actually mean.

This basic query about the meaning of the lyrics can also generate many other questions. For instance, how did the song come about, how long did it take to write, what is the writing process and what’s the idea behind the song? Why use the particular set of lyrics that appear? How personal is the song – and does it contain any hidden or subliminal messages?

With this in mind, the publisher of Lyrics to Live By has asked Tim Bragg to interpret the lyrics of a dozen songs. Ten songs were provided by the publisher whilst Tim chose Paul Simon’s Slip Slidin’ Away and one of his own compositions, Some Answers.


For those who don’t know, Tim Bragg is a multi-instrumentalist and a writer of songs, novels and short stories. Indeed, he has several albums and books to his name. He also has a deep interest in English and green politics and is the founder of English Green – – which describes itself as ‘a group interested in ecology and its relationship with all aspects of human activity. How we co-exist with the flora and fauna and how we conduct ourselves in an ecologically healthy manner and how we achieve a spiritual and material well-being are of particular interest’.

Tim is also a really deep thinker – he describes himself as “the eternal outsider” and has been described as “a provocative intellectual renegade”. He is also interested in issues relating to free speech and English culture, previously describing Stratford-upon-Avon as his “spiritual home”.

In his Foreword, Bragg sets the scene by highlighting the importance of music:

‘But we are drawn to particular songs and musicians who seem to speak to us. They really do help guide us through life and come to our aid when most needed. At our lowest, a song can be played over and over, and this repetition seems to heal. When we are blue a blues song seems to do the trick. And the very personal nature of a song makes it effective for our own personal situation – bad/good or otherwise. I am thankful to the musicians who wrote songs that helped me through difficult times: the end of a love affair … for instance’.

I’m sure we’ve all wondered, why certain lyrics have the ability to strike a chord deep inside us. Indeed, every reader could probably suggest the lyrics of several songs which have really touched them – almost in a spiritual way. To me, it simply illustrates the beauty and power of song. However, has it always been like this – and will it be like this forever?

The lyrics Tim comments on are really varied – they include those from Hey Jude, Stairway to Heaven, Wicked Game and Big Yellow Taxi. The musical genres covered are also fairly broad. Writers include Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles, David Bowie, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.

I’m not going to give you any details of what he makes of any of the lyrics (and I know that this is extremely strange for a review!) as I want to encourage readers of Lyrics to Live by to really think for themselves. That’s because we live in a world where all sorts of information is readily accessible and Wikipedia is king. Such easy access to information is very much a double-edged sword. On the positive side it enables folks to learn about more-or-less anything under the sun. On the negative side, I fear that many folks are – or have – lost the ability to question information and think for themselves.

Earlier I mentioned that Tim is a very deep thinker, and this is certainly borne out in how he interprets the lyrics. I must admit that I’d often sing along to a song and spend a few minutes contemplating what the lyrics mean. But to actually sit down and to probably spend hours really analysing the lyrics is probably an art form in itself!

This is the first time I’ve read an examination of lyrics to such a high level. Indeed, Tim noted that the process was ‘almost as if meditating’. I really do think that most people will be in awe of (or even shocked at) the depth of thinking employed here. Whether you agree with Tim is open to debate. However, it would really be interesting to know what readers think of his in-depth interpretations.

Lyrics to Live by also poses many questions in itself. I’m not too sure if this was the original intention or simply a by-product of the subject matter?

For instance, I’d particularly like to know how and why the particular songs – and more importantly, the individual lyrics – were chosen by the publisher? I also wondered if there was any sort of thread linking the artists? I presume they must mean something to the publisher, but what? Are they in some way personal, or do they contain any hidden or subliminal messages? Indeed, does Tim’s interpretation of the lyrics match those of the publisher, or are they wildly different? Furthermore, I found it interesting that Tim looked at the lyrics of one of his own songs – I wonder if this was therapeutic in any way?

The Foreword mentions Tim’s admiration for Phil Lynott and Van Morrison, who ‘have certainly helped me through my life’s journey’. Yet neither of them feature in the book. This got me wondering what artists would any of us choose to analyse– and why?

A couple of other things also came to mind whilst reviewing the book:

Firstly, Tim Bragg is a multi-instrumentalist and is comfortable with different genres of music. With this in mind, I presume that a Heavy Metal singer would be more at home looking at the lyrics of a Heavy Metal song. The same would presumably go for a Folk musician with Folk lyrics. However, what would happen if you gave the Heavy Metal and Folk singer the lyrics to a Country and Western song? Would the change of genre completely throw them – or would they both apply the same thought process, successfully analyse the lyrics and manage to overcome the change in musical style?

Secondly, this review has thrown up many unique and interesting ideas and questions. They all lend themselves to a series of books looking at various lyrics and their meanings. I’d love to read the thoughts of other artists – and, in particular, independent artists – in the very near future. Here’s hoping that the first follow-up book is at the planning stage already.

Reviewed by John Field

Lyrics to Live By is available as a Paperback or E-book from all Amazon stores

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Bowie: The Man Who Changed the World (2016)


Click on image to buy

Bowie: The Man Who Changed the World (2016)

1h 25min | Documentary, Biography, Music | 9 May 2016 (UK)
Genres: Documentary
Director: Sonia Anderson
Starring: David Bowie, Lawrence Myers, Paul Nicholas
Supporting actors: Dana Gillespie, Mary Finnigan, ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris, Clive Langer, Chris Sullivan, Breege Collins, Angie Bowie
Studio: Under The Milky Way
There are things to like in this documentary. It offers some of insight into a very complex, multi-faceted and creatively restless man. A man stimulated by new ideas and experiences. It features interviews with Bowie himself and people who knew him (if you ever could!). The documentary is fascinating because the subject never ceased to amaze, entertain and, at times, baffle us.
Bowie was a versatile innovator who had a huge impact on popular culture. Everyone saw the waves emananting from what he did but Bowie the man was a mystery. This documentary doesn’t solve that mystery but the interviews do give us some glimpses of the character behind the creativity.
For me the most interesting part was the first part dealing with his early life. Both Dana Gillespie and Mary Finnigan paint a bleak picture of his homelife.
Mary Finnigan says of Bowie’s mother “she was very stiff, very starchy, you had no chance of getting to know her properly, very reserved”.
Dana Gillespie speaks of visit to his home – “a cold house” “it was like walking around with cement blocks on your shoulders” and reveals Bowie said “Whatever it takes I want to get out of this place. I never want to grow up here”.
The rest really charts his escape to and triumph in a different world. There are some great Bowie moments. The 1976 interview with Russell Harty is very funny. Harty tries sarcasm on Bowie but he more than meets his match. The interviews with close friends and business associates can be informative. I had no idea that when he was broke he auditioned for the musical Hair! or how hands on he was on different aspects of his stage productions like lighting.
There is some great information in this documentary but it does jump around in terms of timeline and isn’t well structured. The images don’t always match the story being told and some are overused. My other big criticism is the complete lack of Bowie music which I’m guessing was down to not reaching agreement with the Bowie estate.
I saw this on Netflix so if you’re on there check it out. Would I buy it if I wasn’t on Netflix? On balance yes because, as a Bowie fan, despite my criticisms, it is worth watching.
Reviewed by Pat Harrington

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Simply Bowie


Darley interprets Bowie skillfully

Frankenstein Pub, Edinburgh
26 George Iv Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EN
1840-1940 till 29 August

Sometimes free shows are free because they aren’t very good. That isn’t the case here. Singer Oliver Darley amd Pianist Chad Lelong interpret the songs of David Bowie in a nuanced and subtle way. The audience was still and concentrating on the performance transfixed by the way each song had been skillfully varied yet kept the essense of the original.

There was some commentary of the context of the songs and the audience were encouraged to shout out answers if they thought they knew them.

Bowie hits like Changes and Heroes were all there alongside less well known songs. Darley has a fine voice – “One of the UK’s greatest white voices” according to BB King. He didn’t mimic or slavishly copy (even changing changes dropping the ch, ch, ch!).

A great show and great German beer like Löwenbräu (from Munich) on tap. What more could you ask for?

Reviewed by Pat Harrington
Four Stars

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Let’s push for a set of UK postage stamps to honour David Bowie

ziggystarduststampBack in 2010 the Royal Mail released a set of 10 special stamps featuring classic British album covers including David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed, New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies and Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head.

Just 12 special stamp sets are produced each year. “The thing about stamps is that they are 1-inch works of art,” said Philip Parker, the Head of Stamp Policy for Royal Mail. “And thinking about this we thought that the old 12-inch vinyl cover is a great work of art. We thought putting them on stamps would be a great way to celebrate this art form.”

There is now a petition to get David Bowie a royal mail stamp range all of his own. Here at Counter Culture we think that’s a great idea. We think it would be a superb way to commemorate his life and work. The petition was started by a Bowie fan and can be found at:…

At the time of writing 7,899 people had signed it. Come on Bowie fans we can do better than that!

Full list of album-cover stamps issued in 2010:
• David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
• Blur’s Parklife
• The Clash’s London Calling
• Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head
• Led Zeppelin’s IV
• New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies
• Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells
• Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell
• Primal Scream’s Screamadelica
• The Rolling Stones’ Let it Bleed

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