Oldies But Goldies: When Writer Rick Moody Got Bowie’s Own Words To Describe ‘The Next Day’

Written by | March 28, 2016 5:20 | No Comments

David-Bowie

David Bowie

 

This is the dream of every reviewer, you ask the artist about his last album, and he sends you a series of words that you can use for your review? What I am talking about? 

Back in 2013, Rick Moody, a writer for The Rumpus, an online magazine focused on culture and politics, accomplished the impossible. Being obviously a big fan of David Bowie – he even admitted to have ‘an obsessive-compulsive fixation on Bowie’s work’ – he somehow managed to persuade ‘David Bowie to part with a few words on the subject of this album’. At the time, Bowie was releasing ‘The Next Day’. How the hell did he manage this tour de force? Did he email Bowie? Did he tweet him? Does Bowie use Facebook or Twitter? I don’t know, but this is how Moody described it:

‘I persuaded Bowie, somehow, to give me a sort of a work flow diagram for The Next Day, because I wanted to think about it in light of what he was thinking about it, I wanted to understand the lexicon of The Next Day, and so I simply asked if he would provide this list of words about his album, assuming, like everyone else waving madly trying to get his attention, that there was not a chance in hell that I would get this list, because who the fuck am I, some novelist killing time writing occasionally about music, and yet astonishingly the list appeared, and it appeared without further comment, which is really excellent, and exactly in the spirit of this album, and the list is far better than I could ever have hoped, and it’s exactly like Bowie, at least in my understanding of him, impulsive, intuitive, haunted, astringent, and incredibly ambitious in the matter of the arts; Bowie is a conceptual artist, it seems to me, who just happens to work in the popular song, and he wants to make work that goes somewhere new, and this is amply demonstrated by the list.’

Wow, yeah, who the fuck he is to get Bowie’s attention? Sure, Moody is not any music reviewer, he wrote ‘The Ice Storm’ in 1994 and ‘Garden State’ in 1992 and in the 90’s, Bowie even mentioned him in a complimentary way from a stage, in New York City. This is how Moody describes the event: ‘This was one of the great unlikely moments of my professional life. It was in the did-I-hallucinate-it category. It was in the did-that-actually-happen category. I was alone at the show that night, and so it was impossible to discuss the turn of events with anyone in the aftermath. I will leave it to the collectors of bootlegs to verify. In fact, I bring this incident up now only because there may be those who imagine in what follows that I am saying what I’m going to say here because I am somehow obliged to David Bowie or because I have an obsessive-compulsive fixation on Bowie’s work, owing to the fact that I was once mentioned by him from a stage in New York City.’

Here is this list sent by Bowie to describe his album ‘The Next Day’

‘Effigies

Indulgences

Anarchist

Violence

Chthonic

Intimidation

Vampyric

Pantheon

Succubus

Hostage

Transference

Identity

Mauer

Interface

Flitting

Isolation

Revenge

Osmosis

Crusade

Tyrant

Domination

Indifference

Miasma

Pressgang

Displaced

Flight

Resettlement

Funereal

Glide

Trace

Balkan

Burial

Reverse

Manipulate

Origin

Text

Traitor

Urban

Comeuppance

Tragic

Nerve

Mystification’

Some interesting words, and I can’t even imagine Moody’s excitation when he got the list! He wrote a long paragraph for each word as a theme and ‘The Next Day’ as the subject, and the result is very long as you can imagine. But what else could he have done?

So I had never truly imagine Bowie as an anarchist because he is ‘making songs without choruses, songs without hooks, and without end rhymes’, but vampyric wasn’t a surprise and it sounds even more gothic with a y. There is also a series of cryptic or weird words like Chthonic, Succubus, Mauer, Pressgang, Comeuppance, and Mr. Moody goes into great lengths to cover everything. Overall, this is a very good and helpful start for a review, I guess this is a first, music writers should try this more often, they may get as lucky as he was!

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