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: Repetition

<-previous

In contrast with all the tracks on Lodger that deal with transportation and variation, comes this track that deals with repetition. The question at its basis is: we've determined that a life of change and movement is a happy life, but what happens if you can't live like that? What happens when you're stuck in a repetitive life, where you have to do the same thing over and over again every day?

Johnny is a man
And he's bigger than you
But his overheads are high
And he looks straight through when you ask him how the kids are

We are introduced to Johnny, a large and strong man who toils hard to make ends meet, and we get the sense that all the hard work has drained the life out of him. This is suggested not only by the heartless way he reacts when you ask him about his kids but also by the annoyingly repetitive music and Bowie's blank vocal delivery, which make it feel like we are talking about an emotionless zombie. Suddenly, though, there is a change. A snippet of exotic music bursts in, and we hope we might be taken on another of Lodger's fantastic voyages. But it lasts only for a moment. The repetitive music returns, and will continue unabatedly to the end of the track. There are no other worlds for Johnny – he is destined to remain in the same routine all his life.

He'll get home around seven
'Cause the Chevy's real old
And he could have had a Cadillac
If the school had taught him right
And he could have married Anne with the blue silk blouse
He could have married Anne with the blue silk blouse

Johnny is stuck in an existence he doesn't want, an existence where he keeps dreaming of what could have been. The music is not just repetitive but unnerving, creating enormous tension but providing no release or satisfaction. It feels like something is going to snap.

And the food is on the table
But the food is cold
Don't hit her

He does snap, and so we are shockingly introduced to the theme of the record: domestic violence. Suddenly we become aware of another character is the story: there is also a "her", which is obviously Johnny's wife. After a hard unsatisfying day, Johnny comes home to find his dinner cold, and finally loses it. The narrator asks him not to hit her, but the music seems ready to explode.

"Can't you even cook?
What's the good of me working when you can't damn cook?"

So he pours it all out on his wife, a person who is much weaker than him and that he can safely abuse within the confines of their own four walls. The music, however, does not explode. It remains the same, showing that Johnny remains emotionless and can't find satisfaction even when letting loose.

Well Johnny is a man
And he's bigger than her
I guess the bruises won't show
If she wears long sleeves
But the space in her eyes shows through
And he could have married Anne with the blue silk blouse
He could have married Anne with the blue silk blouse
Shows through
Shows through
Shows through

Domestic violence was something that started to be recognized as a widespread problem only around that time, and Bowie was one of the first pop artists to write about it as something horrible and not a fact of life you simply have to deal with. Up until then it was quite socially acceptable, and in the Velvet Underground's 1967 'There She Goes Again' we hear Lou Reed advising "you better hit her" as he talks about how the man should deal with his hardheaded woman. Bowie's "don't hit her" sounds like a reply to Reed, and his laconic description of how the violence leaves her bruised and dead inside transmits the state of terror she is in. He also tries to deal with the root of the problem, and we can see he puts some of the blame on the educational system (Johnny could have been different "if the school had taught him right"). What is it doing wrong? Well, Bowie seems to suggest that it should be teaching children to explore the world and live a life of changes like he lives, not how to seek a safe and repetitive life like it does now. It is the repetitiveness of Johnny's life that leaves him dead inside and causes him to drain all the life out of his wife as well. In 'Joe the Lion' we heard Bowie berating himself for thinking that regular people with regular Monday-to-Friday jobs are miserable, and learning to see them as heroic people who can find meaning in their routine lives. But now he readjusts his outlook: yes, Joe the Lion might not buy a gun and kill himself, he might carry on living in spite of it all, but something will still die in him, and that death will show in the way he treats others.

This is also Bowie's parting shot from the electronic-robotic era of Berlin, his return to a more soulful and humane music. But he still remembers the lessons he learned during that period. In 'China Girl', we saw how spiritual emptiness leads to fantasies of violence against women. Now his spirit is no longer empty, but as he looks around him he sees men beating up their women and he believes what causes it is the same emptiness he once experienced. Since he knows something about it, he tries to impart some of that knowledge to the world. It's also an example of his new determination not to remain silent about the suffering and wrongdoings going on around him. As he promises to do in 'Fantastic Voyage', he writes it down.

Forgotten for many years, 'Repetition' would be recognized for its brilliance and resurrected in the late nineties.

<-next

הוספת תגובה

נשארו 150 תוים
נשארו 1500 תוים

3 תגובות

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