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Birthdays, Bowie and naughty names

January 8, 2013

It’s just one long party, isn’t it? Christmas, New Year and today a hatful of birthdays.

Anne-Marie, my sister; Paul, my brother-in-law; David Bowie; Elvis Presley; and some others, no doubt. To all of them, heartfelt greetings. And because I hold you all in high esteem, I choose to link neither to the traditional Happy Birthday, nor to Stevie Wonder (sorry – I just don’t like it), but to the one that makes me happy when I hear it: Altered Images.

There’s a neat segue here: Paul and Bowie share a birthday; Paul (like Mrs simonsometimessays) is an avid Bowie fan; Bowie has today announced  the release of a new single. But this is not a newsblog: anyone likely to be affected by the news will long ago have become aware of the announcement. It might even have made the News at Ten (very tenuous cue for the other song by the Vapors).

While not exactly a comeback – he doesn’t need to make a comeback – it is nonetheless the first new music he has released in a decade, heralded by a PR fanfare and causing a subsequent buzz in the twittersphere that reached even the secluded bit that I inhabit. In the press release, Bowie is praised not only for his music but also for his contribution “in the area of art, fashion, style, sexual exploration and social commentary.” Wow.

At the risk of appearing prurient, or of attracting traffic to an innocent blog by use of terms like “sexual exploration”, I’m not quite sure I buy all that. Clearly, Bowie’s apparently ambivalent sexuality was a much discussed aspect of his life and art, but I don’t recall that he is celebrated for pioneering exploration of sex. Perhaps I missed something along the way, but it seemed to me at the time – and we’re really talking about the first half of the 70s – that he was just living his own version of a rock and roll lifestyle, not setting a course to become some sort of fetishists’ icon.

Another slick segue – from fetishes to Kinks. And not just because of the name. Consider Lola – which surely is about sexual adventure. (It was only a matter of time before I got round to Lola, such a brilliant piece of musical and lyrical writing it is.) But even in the sixties, surely some eyebrows were raised at the band’s very name? I remember that in the 70s, the name “The Sex Pistols” sent schoolboys sniggering off to look daringly at page 3 girls. I do wonder whether its bluntness was actually one of the sharpest decisions they made – it was impossible to object to the name alone without being almost unthinkingly reactionary, and so the band were able to become established, without becoming establishment.

birthday-cake-vector-788528Anyway, returning to today. Given (1) that it is the birthday of arguably the greatest figure in English rock and pop history (sorry, Paul, I don’t mean you), and (2) how fitting it is that he shares it with the godlike Elvis, I do feel that I have to do some sort of homage to them both. So for Bowie: Tonight. For Elvis: She’s Not You.

Which leaves Anne-Marie. She once sang in Mozart’s C Minor Mass in front of the Prince and Princess of Wales. That ticked all the boxes for me. As far as I know no recording of that concert exists, but even if it did, there would be no way it could convey to you all that I felt on that occasion. So be satisfied with this: it’s a superb performance of the Domine Deus. Imagine how you would glow, at the spine-tingling moment when the two vocal lines cross, if one of them were your sister.

Well, that’s enough. If I don’t finish and post soon, I’ll miss the date. Elvis would be devastated.


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  1. Ah ha! Well done on working in some great traffic generating terms. Just missing boobs. I salute you. 😉 Brilliant post too. I’m especially fond on the leap from fetish to Kinks. Oops, there we go again. Hello Olga! Yes I’d love to meet your friends.

  2. Boobs! that was the one I was missing. And beach volleyball. Oh well, I’ll keep those for the novelisation. Thank you!

  3. Papizilla permalink

    Howdy, howdy, I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. Here is the link.

  4. Paul Shonk permalink

    I realise this is a late reply, but you also missed off the great Shirley Bassey and the hamster eating Freddie Starr, who also share my birthday!

  5. I hope it won’t upset you to learn that I didn’t omit Freddie Starr by accident.

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