Posts tagged music
Anytime something claims to be the “complete” guide to a subject, I’m immediately skeptical of its “completeness.” Asserting that your piece is the be all and end all resource about a topic is pretty bold, carrying with it an air of arrogance. However that self-assuredness is completely justified in the case of Nicholas Pegg’s 700 plus page tome, The Complete David Bowie, which was recently re-released in an updated and expanded edition by Titan Books.
Pegg’s lengthy introduction celebrates the chameleonic David Bowie for his ability to change appearance, persona, and music to suit changing artistic interests. He comes off as very defensive of Bowie, responding to criticisms that the man lacks attention span and his own unique style. Although Pegg argues quite deftly that Bowie self-identifies more as a performer than a musician, using new types of sound and characters to explore themes of space travel, faith, mental health, and isolation that he’s been grappling with throughout his career. By placing Bowie in this light, Pegg opens a fascinating door to helping you better understand the complicated facets of this enigmatic artist. It’s also the perfect setup for what follows in Pegg’s guide.
Throughout The Complete David Bowie, Pegg uses a shorthand when discussing Bowie’s works, which thankfully he lays out in the beginning of the piece under a section called “How to Use This Book.” Pegg’s volume is as complete as you can possibly get when it comes to Bowie, discussing songs from A-Z, albums, live performances, BBC radio sessions, videos, and Bowie’s work as an actor. There’s a fantastic section called “Dateline” as well, which is literally a 54 page timeline of Bowie’s career covering all aspects of his artistic pursuits.
The two column text format for each page means that this work is jam-packed with juicy details. Everything in Pegg’s book is meticulously researched and written, containing fascinating insight and behind-the-scenes information quelled from multiple sources, including but not limited to interviews with Bowie and his collaborators. For instance in his section on songs, Pegg includes details about different versions of songs, circumstances surrounding their recording, if bootleg copies have surfaced, and even notable covers by other musicians. If that’s not thorough, I don’t know what is.
If you’re a casual Bowie appreciator, beware; you might not have the fortitude to digest a volume of this breadth. However, if you’re a hardcore Bowie fan looking for the Encyclopedia Bowieca, you won’t be disappointed with The Complete David Bowie. The subject matter and its precise presentation will be enough for you to want to read this book cover to cover.
The Complete David Bowie is available in stores and online at www.titanbooks.com.
David Chase worked in television for over 20 years writing, directing, and producing shows like “The Rockford Files” and “Northern Exposure” before he stunned viewers in 1999 with his epic mob series “The Sopranos.” The show lasted six seasons and racked up numerous awards, but it arguably made its most significant in television history with its ambiguous conclusion, which left many fans angry.
In the years since, Chase decided to explore a new avenue by writing and directing his first feature film “Not Fade Away.” His tale, which is set in the 1960s and follows a young man from New Jersey, named Doug (John Magaro) as he starts a rock band and tries to make it big. Doug faces the usual trials and tribulations including grief from his working-class cantankerous father (played by “Sopranos” alum James Gandolfini). Musician Steve Van Zandt who played Silvio on “The Sopranos” also assisted Chase, providing tunes he wrote and helping to secure rights to famous songs from the era.
Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a roundtable interview with David Chase where we discussed his new film, rock n’ roll, and why wrote an ambiguous ending for his film. Below are some of the highlights of the conversation.
Q: In this movie you really focus on the music: there are close ups on the instruments and you cast no-name actors. Why was that so important to you to really focus on the music?