ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Hannah Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Kevin Berger
   Lawrence Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   François Biajoux
   Jarvis Black
   Heitham Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Adam Levon Brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Dana Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   Hélène Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Phil Clark
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conésa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J de Salvo
   J. de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   t. joseph dunn
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinaé
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amélie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Vince Garofalo
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   David Howard
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor D. Infante
   Victor Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Thomas Krämer
   Gerard Kuc
   Christopher Kuhn
   Donna Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Marie Lecrivain
   Anne Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Emma Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahé Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Anthony Mason
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Luke Prater
   Kristena Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Rina Rose
   Emily Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
   Frances Schiavina
   Kim Schroeder
   Carol Schwalberg
   Peter Schwartz
   Ken Scott
   Sondra L. Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
   Nancy Shiffrin
   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Clinton Smith
   Danielle Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
   Jan Steckel
   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
   John Duncan Talbird
   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Mark Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
   Lafayette Wattles
   Charlie Weber
   Ellen Webre
   Justin Weiler
   Viola Weinberg
   Florence Weinberger
   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
   Claire Williams
   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Robert D. Wilson
   Jessica Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   Müesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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G. Murray Thomas
April 2009
   

 

My Favorite Artist (Now): David Bowie

    Nowadays I consider David Bowie my favorite artist. It’s no longer a question of identity, but one of respect for his total body of work. He’s been my favorite artist since sometime in college. But, looking back, I’m hard pressed to pinpoint the exact moment when he became my favorite. I was hooked on Blue Oyster Cult the minute I first heard Tyranny and Mutation. Likewise with Iggy Pop and Raw Power. Yet Bowie more or less crept up on me.
    In fact, as befits a chameleon like Bowie, my early opinion of him went through some radical changes. For a while I dismissed him entirely.
    The first Bowie album I bought was Ziggy Stardust. Of course. Once again, the purchase was based as much on what I had read as what I had heard. Critic after critic rated Ziggy Stardust as one of the best albums of 1972. But “Space Oddity” was getting all the airplay; it was his only song I was really familiar with.
    I remember standing in the record store, flipping back and forth between Ziggy and Space Oddity. Which one should I buy? I knew I liked the song “Space Oddity," and didn’t recognize any of the song titles on Ziggy. But Ziggy had the reputation, and in the end I went with it.
    Which was undoubtedly the right choice, and was, perhaps, one of those momentous turning points in my musical taste. For I consider Space Oddity one of Bowie’s absolute worst albums; to this day, I still do not own a copy. Had I bought it, I might easily have dismissed Bowie as vastly overrated, and it might have taken me years to discover his genius. If I ever did.
    Ziggy Stardust, on the other hand, is a work of genius, and I loved it immediately.
    Yet it still didn’t make me a hardcore Bowie fan. I passed on Alladin Sane when it came out, although it is now my favorite Bowie album. In fact, it was a few more years before I bought another Bowie album. And that purchase (a bootleg of the 1972 Santa Monica Civic Center show) was inspired as much by its being a bootleg as its being Bowie. (I’ve long had a fascination with bootleg albums.)
    Also I had just seen him live.
    Yes, I saw the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974. Indicative of my indifference to him at the time, it was an absolutely last minute thing. I only went because the final exam I had the next morning was canceled. I mean, I certainly wanted to go, but it wasn’t a thing of desperate necessity.
    The concert was amazing. He had the most elaborate stage set I had yet seen for a rock show; it depicted a post apocalyptic cityscape. The show was all theatrics; he acted out little skits for every song: being made up for “Cracked Actor”, boxing (for some reason) for “Panic in Detroit.” He sang “Space Oddity” from an elevated chair high over the audience. He sang “Time” from inside a futuristic capsule of mirrors and blue neon. And the show was totally his; except for one saxophone solo, the musicians remained hidden behind screens for the entire show.
    I walked out raving about what a great concert it was. Yet it still signaled the start of my waning interest in Bowie. For as great as the show had been, musically it had been a disappointment. The Bowie I loved was hard guitar rock, and this had been something else entirely. The music, besides being totally subsumed to the show, was some funky hybrid I didn’t totally relate to.
    And then he released Young Americans, and it was over for me. Young Americans was -- horrors! -- Disco!! That total scourge of modern music, music that was plastic, and funky and polished and everything I couldn’t stand.
    In my mind, Bowie became an artist who had put out a couple of good albums, and then changed styles and lost his appeal. I grouped him with Elton John, who had done something similar. (At the time, pairing Bowie with Elton John made more sense than you might think. They were both extreme showmen, at their most extreme. And Elton, with “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” had also sold out to disco.)
    Yet that bootleg album helped me to sustain some level of interest in Bowie. For it was the live Bowie music I had not gotten in the concert I saw. This was especially true in the opening cut, “Hang Onto Yourself,” in which Mick Ronson’s guitar solo turned into o total guitar freakout.
    So what I did was become a Mick Ronson fan. Ronson was the guitarist in The Spiders from Mars, and as such was responsible for the sound of much of Ziggy and Aladdin Sane. Bowie’s music on his breakthrough albums was totally guitar based hard rock, and the guitar it was based on was Ronson’s. Further, Ronson actually arranged much of the music on Bowie’s early albums, especially Hunky Dory.
    This enabled me to become a total rock snob, and run around claiming that Ronson was the real genius behind Bowie’s early work. Without Ronson, Bowie was just a hack. I got particularly incensed over an episode of the concert show Midnight Special, where every Ronson solo was nipped in the bud.
    Unfortunately, Ronson’s solo albums were, for the most part, crap. While they had their high points, mostly in his guitar playing (his version of the jazz standard “Slaughter on 10th Avenue” is beautiful), they fell apart on his weak songwriting. Ronson was not a great songwriter. Nor was he, in fact, a great musical leader. He was a musician and a collaborator, someone who was best at bringing out and elaborating someone else’s genius.
    Which points up one of Bowie’s real strengths. He was a collaborator as well, but of a different sort. Part of Bowie’s genius has always been using other musicians to fulfill his musical vision. Although I at the time I saw this as exploitation (at least as far as Ronson was concerned), I can now see it as a real talent. Throughout his career, Bowie has coaxed superb musicianship out of his sidemen. Just look at some of the guitarists he has worked with -- Ronson, Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Stevie Ray Vaughn -- and the work he got out of them. Look at his collaborations with Brian Eno. Look at the great albums he has produced for others -- Lou Reed, Mott the Hoople, and, yes, Iggy Pop.
    Anyway, my love for Mick Ronson kept me exploring Bowie’s back catalog, as I searched used record bins for anything Ronson played on. I grew to love much of Bowie’s work, at least that featuring the Spiders. So when Bowie swung back to my musical taste, I was ready.
    Which he did a couple of years later. Although 1977’s Low still had some disco overtones, especially the hit “Sound and Vision,” it was also experimental enough to get me curious. Later that same year he released “Heroes,” with Robert Fripp now playing the snarling guitar hero, and he had me again. His next two studio albums, Lodger and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)remain among my favorite albums of his, and of all time.
    Since then, Bowie’s output has been incredibly inconsistent, and that hasn’t just been a case of changing styles. While there are many people who consider Young Americans a great album (I still don’t like it), there are very few who would say the same about Never Let Me Down.
    Still, I stuck with him. I bought every album as soon as it came out, and at least gave it a chance. More importantly, I didn’t let a single weak album (or even two or three) discourage me. For every Never Let Me Down or Earthling there would be a Black Tie White Noise (maybe not one of his best albums, but definitely one of the most interesting) or a Heathen. Actually, I found his last two, Heathen and Reality, very strong albums, a return of his songwriting abilities.
    So he has remained my favorite artist over the years. Much of that remains based on the best of his work from the 70’s. Even if he had never released a worthwhile album since, he would still be high (if not at the top) on my list of favorites. But he has released enough good work since to maintain his status in my mind.
    You might say that the point when I settled on David Bowie as my favorite artist was the point when my musical taste matured. That is, it was the point when I realized that not everything my favorite artist produced was going to be a work of genius. That a true artist was going to keep experimenting, and therefore was inevitably going to have some missteps. That consistency and genius may well not go together.


            CODA: BOWIE AND IGGY


    I must admit that another thing which brought me back to Bowie was his work with Iggy Pop. Coincidentally or not, Bowie’s disco period corresponded with Iggy’s disappearance from the music scene. During that time, when Iggy’s name appeared in the press, in was usually in conjunction with Bowie. In the end, they were working on Iggy’s comeback. My own return to Bowie probably had as much to do with Iggy’s first two solo albums, The Idiot and Lust for Life (both produced by Bowie) as with Bowie’s albums at the time.
    Iggy and Bowie’s careers have often been intertwined, and I would say that has been to both of their benefits.
    For the most part, I want to confine my amateur psychoanalysis in this columns to myself, but I’m forced to do some speculation on the relationship between these two. I would speculate that Bowie was attracted to Iggy for much the same reason I was -- Iggy represented the opposite of what Bowie was. Iggy was all about the loss of control, and Bowie is the ultimate control freak. Okay, maybe not as ultimate as Frank Zappa (who preferred synthesizers to live musicians because they would do exactly what he told them to do), but you can’t listen to Bowie’s albums without believing every note was carefully placed in exactly the right place.
    (If you have any doubt about this listen to his live albums. Live albums usually get their appeal from the spontaneity of a concert, but Bowie’s sound like they were recorded in the studio. The exception to this is that Santa Monica bootleg, which is by far his best live album. It achieves its greatness through classic rock’n’roll looseness, especially on the Ronson guitar freakouts “Hang on to Yourself” and “Waiting for the Man’, but also on subtler cuts such as “Life on Mars” and an acoustic version of “Space Oddity.” But it is also downright sloppy at points, such as a meandering guitar duel in “Width of a Circle” and (heaven forbid!) Bowie forgetting the words to “Suffragette City.” It is probably no coincidence that the recording wasn’t officially released until the mid-90’s.)
    Likewise, Iggy was probably attracted to that very control, especially when it, repeatedly, put his career back on track. By imposing some level of control, Bowie helped produce many of Iggy’s greatest albums, starting with Raw Power. Although Raw Power did also demonstrate the conflicts between control and abandon. Iggy was not happy with Bowie’s mix of the album, which lacked the power Iggy was looking for. “That fucking carrot top sabotaged my album,” he is widely quoted as saying. Years later (1997 to be exact), Iggy remixed the album to his taste; his mix is now the official one, the only one available. Fanatic that I am, I own both mixes. While I will agree that Iggy’s rocks far harder, and probably would have astounded people even more had it been released in 1973, I still find Bowie mix more interesting to listen to.
    Out of Iggy’s solo albums, the ones Bowie produced are generally more controlled. And more successful. The Idiot and Lust for Life are consistently rated as his best solo albums. 1986’s Blah Blah Blah, while not rated as high critically, was among his most commercially successful albums. (As for me, I consider Blah Blah Blah the best Bowie album of the 80’s.)
    It’s a bit harder to pin down what Bowie got out of the relationship, at least as far as specific pieces of music are concerned. It’s quite possible that the harder edge of Aladdin Sane and the experimental qualities of Low are both at least partially the result of Iggy’s influence. On a more general level, working with Iggy no doubt helped recharge Bowie’s creative batteries.
    In later years, Bowie was able to do one further, financial favor for Iggy. By recording Iggy compositions on his own albums, Bowie was able to earn Iggy some royalty payments. Somewhere I read (I no longer recall where) that Bowie’s 1983 version of “China Girl” (which I must say is far inferior to Iggy’s version; Bowie turned a chilling song about cultural imperialism into a bouncy love song) earned Iggy more money that he had earned in his entire career as a musician up to that point.
    In any event, over the years David Bowie and Iggy Pop have provided a very effective yin and yang of my musical taste, from totally under control to totally out of control, and (with both) always willing to try something new.

copyright 2009 G. Murray Thomas