Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Why won't all the (not so) young dudes stop criticising Bowie?

David Bowie
David Bowie

I don't know what it is about David Bowie but the prospect of a new album, the first in 20 years, has certainly brought out the – almost exclusively male – music nerds/anoraks.

And the criticism – for an album that no one's officially heard, mark you – demonstrates once again a particularly male neurosis.

Apparently the new album will be disappointing because it draws upon past glories. Or. The new album will be disappointing because it ignores past glories. Sometimes you just can't win, David.

Witness the reaction a few weeks ago to the release of his first single in years Where Are We Now? Practically every man I know fell over himself to pronounce that "Hmmm ... it's not very good, really ... well, apart from the chorus ... and the video ... and the ..."

In fact, it's a hauntingly beautiful taking of stock love song.

For the record I love Mr Jones. I don't care what period of David we're talking about: Ziggy Bowie, Berlin Bowie, Thin White Duke Bowie, Disco Bowie belting out Let's Dance. Bung it on. I even like the early Bowie when our boy was channelling the Cockney-ism of Anthony Newley.

Listen, gentlemen, up there in your bedrooms, I think we should all relax. I mean, instead of all the angst-chewing and keenly relished disappointment, let's take a punt that The Next Day turns out to be yet another Bowie triumph. And if it isn't then, well, it isn't.

After all, hasn't the man done enough?

Twenty four albums (including the new one), most of them platinum, more hit singles than there's room for on one CD, a film career (of sorts), being voted the 29th most important Briton of all time and perhaps the most important pop artist since Presley whose influence is, well, just about everywhere.

Plus a beautiful wife and more money than one man would ever need.

Music-head prophets of doom always attach themselves to the great ones. It's just part of a great tradition of envy. These people couldn't have written Starman, John I'm Only Dancing, Rock & Roll Suicide, Jean Jeanie, Ashes to Ashes.

They couldn't even have written The Laughing Gnome.

I don't even know why I'm getting so worked up about it. I mean, it's not as if David, in his New York multi-million dollar apartment with his beautiful wife and child and his back catalogue, is worrying about what Neville in Comber is going to make of it all.

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