Sunday, 8 January 2017

I guess the season is on

From the utterly superb website of all things Bowie, Pushing Ahead of the Dame:
“Ironically, the lyric is something about taking a short view of life, not looking too far ahead and not predicting the oncoming hard knocks. The lyric might have been a note to a younger brother or my own adolescent self,” Bowie wrote of the song many years later, and in its most generous interpretation, Teenage Wildlife is Bowie’s bequest to his successors - be true to yourself, or at least to your favourite illusion; know that the crowd will mock your ambitions and will hunt you down if you have the bad taste to fulfil them.

Is fame even worth it, though? A kid with “squeaky clean eyes” is desperate for fame but he becomes a toy of commerce, just another ugly teenage millionaire, “a broken nosed mogul,” with nothing new to say. The “same old thing in brand new drag comes sweeping into view.” After that, all that remains is the fall: it’s a world of pop stars as a succession of Jane Greys, queens crowned and dispatched in a week.
Today would have been the 70th birthday of my idol ["singing falsetto"?], David Bowie.

With his eternal legacy, universal adulation - and of course, his most unexpected and untimely death almost a year ago - there is very little I wish to add to the reams and reams of articles, tributes, analyses, retrospectives, and reminiscences that many writers (not least myself over the years- just click the keyword "David Bowie" at the foot of this post) have put together about Mr Bowie's life.

Suffice to say, as my regular reader will know, I loved him deeply - and I especially revered his album Scary Monsters and Super Creeps (which provided a major backdrop to my own teenage years, and began my "relationship" with the great man). I am, as he was, also deeply cynical about the occasional flurry of activity that hits the media touting "the new Bowie", or that ubiquitous lazy journalistic tack of making a comparison between him and his successors to the top of the commercial tree - often on the most tenuous of bases, such as a "change of image".

No. There was, and ever will be, only one David Bowie.

And in this song (released in 1980 as the opening track of side two on the above album, in the midst of the emergence of the likes of Gary Numan, the "Blitz Kids" and eclectic post-Punk outlandish "dressing-up" street-styles - the first wave of people he often dismissed as "imitators"), Bowie made his own bitter reclamation of his position as a true original...

Well, how come you only want tomorrow
With its promise
Of something hard to do
A real life adventure
Worth more than pieces of gold
Blue skies above
And sun on your arms
Strength in your stride
And hope in those squeaky clean eyes
You'll get chilly receptions
Everywhere you go
Blinded with desire
I guess the season is on

So you train by shadow boxing,
Search for the truth
But it's all, but it's all used up
Break open
Your million dollar weapon
And you push, still you push,
Still you push your luck

A broken nosed mogul are you
One of the new wave boys

Same old thing in brand new drag
Comes sweeping into view, oh-ooh
As ugly as a teenage millionaire
Pretending it's a whiz-kid world
You'll take me aside, and say
"Well, David, what shall I do?
They wait for me in the hallway"
I'll say "Don't ask me, I don't know any hallways"
But they move in numbers and they've got me in a corner
I feel like a group of one, no-no
They can't do this to me
I'm not some piece
Of teenage wildlife

Those midwives to history put on their bloody robes

The word is that the hunted one is out there on his own
You're alone for maybe the last time
And you breathe for a long time
Then you howl like a wolf in a trap
And you daren't look behind

You fall to the ground
Like a leaf from the tree
And look up one time
At that vast blue sky
Scream out aloud as they shoot you down
No no, I'm not a piece
Of teenage wildlife
I'm not a piece
Of teenage wildlife

And no one will have seen
And no one will confess
The fingerprints will prove
That you couldn't pass the test
There'll be others
On the line filing past,
Who'll whisper low
I miss you he really had to go
Well each to his own, he was
Another piece of teenage wildlife, oh-oh-oh-ohh
Another piece of teenage wildlife, oh-oh-oh-ohh
Another piece of teenage wild...

RIP David Robert Jones (8th January 1947 – 10th January 2016)


  1. always admired him, but my musical tastes ran elsewhere. what i do recall, with crystal clarity, is my father watching him on tv & laughing. thankfully, herbert is long dead and languishing in some afterlife version of a boring mall, the fucker.

    1. I expect David Bowie was probably laughing at him more... Jx


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