Future Legend 17

Strangest Curiosities (andruss using Peellaert)

Strangest Curiosities (Andruss using Peellaert*)

David Bowie died a year ago today. He was cremated secretly without service, ceremony, memorial or fuss. In accordance with his wishes the body was taken to the crematorium, the paper work filed and the ashes returned.

Tony Visconti already revealed David, fully aware he was dying of liver cancer, wanted his latest work to be a swan song; a parting gift. Now we are also aware of his illness, the lyrics have become all the more poignant as we understand the references.

Ivo van Hove, collaborator on David’s off Broadway musical ‘Lazarus’, speculated – confessing it was merely a feeling without any substance or foundation –David might have chosen the timing of his death because of the line in the song ‘Girl loves me’. David sings: where the f*** did Monday go. He died on a Sunday.

This is the place to point out the lyrics to ‘Girl loves me’ are partially written in Nadsat the made-up language of ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Bowie cited the film being an influence on the Ziggy Stardust look. His Ziggy concerts opened with Beethoven’s 9th Symphony a track used in the film. He used the Nadsat word ‘droogie’ (friend) in Suffragette City and ‘nazz’ (fool) in Ziggy Stardust. Both songs feature on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

‘Hey man, D-Droogie don’t crash here – There’s only room for one and here she comes’

‘He was the nazz, with God-given ass’

It is claimed the lyrics also feature polari – a gay slang popular from the 1930s (at least) and still heard in the 70s. Some words have become mainstream: eek (face), bona (good), troll (walk), varda (look), bold, butch, camp, naff, nanty, packet (male genitals), slap (cosmetics).

Polari was popularised during the mid-1960s in the BBC Radio show ‘Round the Horne’ featuring Sandy & Julian (2 gay characters voiced by Kenneth Williams & Hugh Paddick). Their catchphrase was ‘Bona to varda yer jolly old eek!

The idea is appealing, for Bowie launched himself into stardom by announcing he was gay in a 1972 Melody Maker interview, and arguably changing the perspective of a whole generation. However the only polari word I found in the song was ‘omi’ meaning man (as ‘polone’ was woman and ‘omi-polone’ was a gay man) and that is spelled homi.

Van Hoven went on to liken David’s unnamed last album (but referred to by the cover image of a Black Star) to Mozart’s Requiem. According to legend Mozart felt he was composing his Requiem Mass for his own funeral.

Mozart was buried in an unmarked common grave with no mourners present. The lack of a monument to this universally recognised genius has haunted music lovers over the centuries. And dare I say kept his legend alive.

Despite historians claiming Mozart’s burial was in accordance with Viennese burial customs of the time, the legend persists of Mozart being isolated and ignored by lesser men, suffering the indignity of an anonymous pauper’s funeral in a common grave pit.

Whether or not these broad similarities are coincidental is a matter for future historians to unravel.

All we can be sure of is that in centuries to come there will be as many biographies of Bowie as there are of Mozart. And classical fans (or perhaps neo-classical fans) everywhere will lament the lack of a monument to lay their floral tributes to the great man.

David has only been dead a year. Despite everything written on the internet, it is still too early to see what shape his legend will ultimately take. Amid the speculation and insight, we can only be certain David’s death will be marked by the same defining features of his life – fascination, rumour and gossip, and the thought that the man was more than a musician – he was a living work of art.

When the silent film actor Rudolph Valentino died in 1926 (on a Monday) the western world went in to mourning. There were riots outside the funeral home in New York where his body lay in state. Women committed suicide. A record was released. It became an international hit. It was called – ‘There’s a New Star in Heaven Tonight’

Given that the majority of the universe is dark matter, perhaps it was only appropriate the New Star in Heaven a year ago tonight was a BLACKSTAR…

Not a white star…

Not a popstar…


Black Star - Bowie

Black Star?- Bowie?

Some have said the 5 star parts running across the bottom of the album cover stand for the letters B-O-W-I-E. If this is the case then following on from the second symbol the title of the album is surely ‘O’. Or perhaps more accurately Omega meaning  ‘the end’ as in I am the Alpha and the Omega.

Another one for the legend.


*Animation using Diamond Dogs LP cover (EMI/Bowie) & poster by Dutch artist Guy Peeleart (1934-2008); Bowie with dog photograph by Terry O’Neill – Words: Bowie

17 thoughts on “Future Legend

  1. Reply Christy B Apr 20,2017 5:39 pm

    A wonderful tribute to Bowie. I found my way here from Shehanne’s blog and am enjoying the insightful posts you have written. Thank you.

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  4. Reply Serdar Jan 18,2017 9:23 am

    Great read Paul

  5. Reply J.Gi Federizo Jan 13,2017 1:46 am

    This is certainly very informational! I’m not exactly a Bowie fan, but not a hater either. And best I’ll remember him by is as the Troll King in THE LABYRINTH. Nevertheless, I was sad when he passed away.

    His legend lives.

    (And thanks for writing this wonderful article) 🙂

  6. Reply Robbie Cheadle Jan 12,2017 5:16 am

    Great read, I gleaned quite a lot of new information about David Bowie.

  7. Reply dgkaye Jan 12,2017 2:11 am

    What a fascinating article Paul, and a beautiful tribute to Bowie. Hard to believe he’s already been gone one year! 🙂

    • Reply Paul Jan 12,2017 7:04 pm

      Thanks Debby. I know – for us who grew up with him it is unimaginable. I have thinking about one of his songs.Appropriately its called Everyone Says Hi
      Said you took a big trip
      They said you moved away
      Happened oh, so quietly
      They say

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  9. Reply Sally cronin Jan 11,2017 10:48 am

    Brilliant as alwasy Paul.. as a teenager I was allowed to watch Top of the Pops as a special concession whilst my father sat in his armchair and commented on the decline in masculinity and ‘why don’t they get their hair cut’! When Space Oddity was released I was 16 and that song has haunted me for years.. still play today when I need a little inspiration.

    • Reply Paul Jan 12,2017 7:22 pm

      Actually Sally you have hit on a tale. Long before Space Oddity, back in 1964 David was on the BBC Cliff Mitchelmore Show arguing the case for Respecting Blokes with Long Hair, saying he was sick of builder’s calling out “Are yer Alright Darlin’?” when he walked passed! Totally tongue in cheek of course but it makes you think. He was about 10 years without a hit – even unable to follow up after Space Oddity. If he had made it before 1972 there would have been no Ziggy Stardust- and the whole counter-cultural revolution might have happened differently – Johnny Rotton with his spiky red hair was inspired by Ziggy. Punk by the Velvet Underground who Bowie popularised. Then there wee the young romantics – Boy George Steve Strange, even Madonna and Gaga. It would have been a different world.

  10. Reply Paul Jan 11,2017 1:43 am

    Read Walk on the Wild Side about Warhol’s Factory & the Velvet Underground

  11. Reply Paul Jan 10,2017 3:10 pm

    Please Check out my other website for Free Ebooks

    Thomas the Rhymer – A charming Harry Potter type story about 3 spunky kids trying to rescue Jack’s eldest brother from a sinister Fairy Queen

    Finn Mac Cool – an adults only book based around Irish myth in a post-apocalyptic Ireland


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