00
עדכונים

מנוי במייל

קבלת עדכונים על רשומות חדשות ישירות לתיבת האמייל
יש להזין אימייל תקין על מנת להרשם לעדכונים
ברגעים אלו נשלח אליך אימייל לאישור/ביטול ההרשמה
*שים/י לב, מרגע עשית מנוי, כותב/ת הבלוג יוכל לראות את כתובת האמייל שלך ברשימת העוקבים.
X

פ.י.מ.פ.

Analyzing Bowie: Beauty and the Beast

<-previous

'Beauty and the Beast' is a fairytale title, preparing us to hear a piece of romantic fluff. However, it is also the opening track of "Heroes", Bowie's twelfth studio album, and as the law of Bowie opening tracks goes, it must present a crisis.

Weaving down a byroad, singing the song
That's my kind of highroad, gone wrong
My-my
Smile at least
You can't say no to the Beauty and the Beast

Five years have passed since Bowie recorded the seminal 'Five Years', another opening track that pointed out a crisis. The crisis was that Western logic still thinks in terms of working to create a future utopia while any rational basis for belief in a better future is gone, and this discrepancy is leading to a social and moral disintegration. To get out of this crisis Bowie presented new ethics, ethics that aren't about the future but about creating a temporary utopia in the here and now - and once this utopia falls, moving on and creating a different utopia. Following these ethics, he went through five years of incredible changes, extreme highs and glorious artistic triumphs. But it also exposed some dark sides, and looking back he realizes that the highroad he took had gone wrong. It is time to think again.

His ethics of ch-ch-ch-changes determined that whenever your life is no longer exciting and fun you must transform your identity and create yourself anew. This is to be done by finding an alien logic that intrigues you, finding a way of fusing it with elements of your old identity, and using that as the basis of your new self. But beyond "it should be exciting" these ethics do not provide you with any moral boundaries, and there's a danger that you will be excited by things that are bad for you or for others. After his encounters with hard drugs, black magic and fascism, Bowie realizes that there are dark sides to his soul that cannot be trusted. His psyche contains beauty but also contains a beastly side, and they are both part of him. By allowing yourself to give in to whatever excites you at that moment, you run a danger that the beast will take over.

Something in the night
Something in the day
Nothing is wrong but darling
Something's in the way
There's slaughter in the air
Protest on the wind
Someone else inside me
Someone could get skinned, how?

This crisis was not his alone. At the time he was taking refuge in Berlin, youth culture was undergoing a major transformation, as a new generation of kids who grew up on Bowie's albums and the artists he introduced (particularly the Velvet Underground and the Stooges) internalized his message and were now implementing what they have learned. The Punks adopted his focus on the present, and announced that there is "no future". They also adopted his "loving the alien" ethics and assimilated any kind of alien to society's logic, wearing it on their body and shocking society with a style that celebrated ugliness, artificiality and violence. But, as the Sex Pistols sang, "when there's no future there cannot be sin", and the Punks had no moral boundaries in their choices. Among the aliens they adopted were symbols of fascism, communism and anarchism, and some of them even began to identify with what those symbols stood for. The Skinheads, that late-sixties subculture that seemed to have disappeared by the mid-seventies, returned in full force, and many of its members started to identify with extreme rightwing politics. When Bowie sings that someone inside him could get skinned, he acknowledges that the Skinheads are coming from inside him – in other words, that they are also descendants of the logic he espoused.

Once again, then, Bowie's trials have mirrored the state of youth culture. The underlying assumption in the music of the Beatles and their contemporaries was that the nature of humanity is good, and if we just free it from the shackles, prejudices and inhibitions of the previous generations we will all live in harmony. Rock'n'roll was the call of the wild, the freedom cry of human nature. But punk has taken rock'n'roll to the edge, and exposed the fallacies of this way of thinking. Human nature contains both good and bad, it is both beauty and the beast, and you "can't say no" to that fact – that is, you can't release yourself from the goodness or the badness that are in your soul. For the moment, says Bowie, "nothing is wrong" – we are still living in the sixties dream and thinking that rock'n'roll is making the world better. But something bad is on the way, and since we are also good and can't submit to the bad, this is a frightening thought. 1977 was a violent year, with many youth riots, and Bowie feels the slaughter in the air and knows that it is partly his own doing.

The music represents it perfectly. Robert Fripp's instantly recognizable guitar sounds like a blend of a howling animal and a screeching machine, and Bowie's vocal blends with it to create the "beast" voice; while "beauty" is represented by the female vocal, who sounds pretty aggressive herself. They both sing in unison, but it is anything but harmonic. The vocals sound frenzied, strenuous, rushed to the point of panic. The rest of the instruments, meanwhile, provide a condensed and psychotic turmoil of music, and it all sounds like a soul ripped apart by opposing forces.

My-my
Someone fetch a priest
You can't say no to the Beauty and the Beast
Darling

In his earlier records, Bowie banished priests from his world as his ethics did not require them. Now he feels the need for them again, as we have once again reached the point where we need spiritual guidance.

I wanted to believe me
I wanted to be good
I wanted no distractions
Like every good boy should

Bowie admits that things did not go the way he planned. When he banished the priests and every other source of authority, he did it because he truly believed he could create his own ethics. He thought that if he would just believe in his own intellect and instincts, and would not let any other authority distract him, he would be good. But now, he is consumed by doubt.

Nothing will corrupt us
Nothing will compete
Thank god heaven left us
Standing on our feet
My-my
Beauty and the Beast
My-my
Just Beauty and the Beast
You can't say no to the Beauty and the Beast
Darling

For five years, Bowie had used his own image to present a mirror-image to society, to show it its darker sides and offer ways to overcome them. But now that he looks in society's mirror, one of the dark sides he sees in it is none other than himself. As all the images he presented were now being emulated by a new generation of kids, they became a problem that needs to be overcome. Looking back, he realizes what a morally dangerous path he took, and thanks the heavens that he and humanity are still standing on their feet after all that. To overcome this situation, he must now find the moral boundaries for his way of life.

And the first thing to do is to acknowledge that human nature is beauty and the beast. It is not all bad as some claim, and it is not all good as others claim. It is capable of beautiful things, but also of heinous acts. This duality cannot be changed or corrupted – it is what we are, and we must accept it as a given. To create his new ethics, then, Bowie must take that into account, and find a way of life that expresses the beauty while taming the beast.

1978 performance, with Adrian Belew doing a convincing inpression of Fripp:

<-next

הוספת תגובה

נשארו 150 תוים
נשארו 1500 תוים

2 תגובות

© כל הזכויות לתוכן המופיע בדף זה שייכות ל אלדינסיין אלא אם צויין אחרת