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The Once-Unimaginable Occurs: David Bowie Turns 67

Often imitated, never duplicated. Here's why.

by
Kathy Shaidle

Bio

January 9, 2014 - 9:46 am

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Although never an all-in Bowie fan, I’ve always admired his shrewdness, humor and style.

Unlike so many of his imitators, Bowie more often than not managed to write “bravery” checks that didn’t bounce due to insufficient talent.

That is: his self-described musical descendants too often get the easy, “outrageous” part semi-right, but can’t or won’t pen decent tunes to match (or, ideally, surpass) all that superficial shock.

Even when he was starting out, however garish he looked, Bowie also seemed — incongruously — mature, not a bratty teenager spouting embarrassing drivel.

Paradoxically, that self-contained maturity enhanced his “cool” rather than undermined it.

Bowie was, and is, more Dean Martin than James Dean.

In honor of his birthday, NME lists “Dame David’s” “10 Greatest Achievements.”

The corny pastiche Velvet Goldmine was too self-conscious to win me over entirely — “heavy handed camp” is a contradiction in terms, and the film lacked Hedwig‘s aching, open heart — but the “Bowie” character was well-observed:

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(KATHY SHAIDLE is a blogging pioneer who runs FiveFeetOfFury, now in its 14th year. She's been called "one of the great virtuoso polemicists of our time," by MARK STEYN. Her NEW book is Confessions of A Failed Slut (Thought Catalog, 2014).

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All Comments   (5)
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His nickname of "The Thin White Duke" is an acknowledgement of his Dean Martin-ish. Bowie ftw. Let's Dance!
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
@ Bill Lawrence - Yes his real name is David Jones but there was a Davy Jones who was all the rage with The Monkees at the time so he had to change it. I suggested Loretta Pumptit but was ignored.

Goddard Road, Beckenham, is his ancestral home. Near Elmers End station near the Tesco store, you can't miss it.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tidbit of the day: David Bowie took his name from Jim Bowie after watching The Alamo.



14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
I would have never watched this movie but for Christine Vachon's book about producing (Shooting to Kill). Her explanation about how movies are made in conjunction with this movie is highly reccomended.

Hedwig was definitely the better movie but you gotta admit that VG had some serious WTF moments that were just so much fun. The press conference scene was to me quite good but then again the Maxwell demon sequence you have here is tremendous as well.

That being said they both had excellent soundtracks and really turned me on to some great music -including one of my all time favorites Make Me Smile.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wow OK thanks for the recommendation!

Too much corny, winking, "breaking the fourth wall" etc in VG. Empty calorie fun in small doses, whereas Hedwig has depth and heart.
14 weeks ago
14 weeks ago Link To Comment
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