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פ.י.מ.פ.

Analyzing Bowie: A New Career in a New Town

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The lovely instrumental that closes side A of Low is the logical conclusion of the entire side. After 'Speed of Life' manifested the crisis of the fast lifestyle he has been living in the past few years, especially since he moved to America, the next few tracks expand on it and show different facets of the crisis. But at times the pace slows down, and then we feel that we are out of the rat race and touching upon a new kind of soulfulness lurking beneath the electronic sound. This is the prevailing mood of 'A New Career in a New Town', and its name leaves no doubt what it is about: getting away from his former life and moving to a new town, where the speed of life is somewhat slower, to start afresh.

The beginning of the track already presents something new. This is very reminiscent of the music Brian Eno created for his 1975 masterpiece Another Green World, an album in which synthesizers are used to create an atmosphere that is curiously earthy and vibrant.  To the ears of early seventies music listeners, synthesizers sounded like an expression of something inhumane, usually used to represent modern or even sci-fi technology. When Kraftwerk turned to sound that was completely made by synthesizers, they made music that almost entirely removed the human element. Eno presented something different. His electronic music on Another Green World is breathing; living; at times pastoral, at times chirpy, at times sublime. Humanity still seems out of the picture, but it is like he brings nature back to life from somewhere in the bowels of the machine. It almost sounds like sounds you'd hear in a forest, although an alien kind of forest. For Bowie, caught in the urban nightmare he and Iggy Pop portrayed in the robotic screeches of The Idiot, this was exactly what he needed to rise from his lowly situation.

Once again, then, Bowie has found a hand to pull him out of the quicksand. Low is very much a collaborative effort between Bowie and Eno, and Eno's influence is definitely felt in this track which uses synthesizers to create a welcoming environment for our hero in his new town. After a pastoral opening, the music picks up and changes into a cheerful tune, sounding like a young lad going out optimistically into the world, and Bowie then comes in playing a bluesy harmonica, letting his spirit sing through it, reconnecting to the music of his youth. We are hearing signs of recovery.

The track was recorded in late 1976, and Bowie already made up his mind to leave America behind for some new location. As he hinted in 'Station to Station', it was now the reawakening continental Europe that excited him. He will soon start a new career (well, a new kind of music) in a new town, and this new town will be Berlin.

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