Song Of The Day 12/4/2014: David Bowie - "When I'm Five"


Housekeeper's Holiday: Nobody doesn't love David Bowie, but are any of you like me and find his pre-astrophysicist era just the most adorable career preamble in rock history? It beats Miley Cyrus's, that's for sure. This was when he was forced to change his real name to avoid being mistaken for a Monkee and when he was still filtering experience through his Anthony Newley buffer. David Bowie: The Butterscotch Years. Yes, okay, I know -- this is also when he came up with "The Laughing Gnome." I'm trying to figure out how in the world he came up with that, because it could not have been the drugs. No self-respecting stoner or junkie would ever get high and cough up the ludicrous puns that you get in "The Laughing Gnome." You could only commit that kind of art crime totally straight. You can't even have caffeine. You have to be barely awake, halfway unintelligible and on some kind of deadline to squirt out something like "The Laughing Gnome."

But even in Bowie's glam-antecedent era he worked in character. While I'm unwilling to take the plunge and call "When I'm Five" anywhere near the level of his '70s work, there's something amusing, sad and uncomfortable about Bowie's recreation of a 4-year-old looking forward to the immense leap of maturity that occurs when you're five. There are some disquieting moments in this video, not the least of which are David's creaking, jerky contortions which somehow, miraculously, convey the mindset of a 4-year-old. He also nailed the stream of consciousness in a child's internal dialogue, before he has to go to school and have it all screwed up. "I will wash my face and hands all by myself... I will read the magazines in Mummy's drawer" -- I'm gonna bet they're not McCall's -- "Daddy shouted loud at Mummy and I dropped my toast... I wonder why my Daddy cries." Holy crap, postwar Major Tom, I'm wondering why the hell your daddy cries too. Am I supposed to be crying? Am I not crying enough? Should I start looking at the cable bill in order to get me to cry more?

So, anyway. This is one of the scarier David Bowie videos out there, almost as blood-curdling as the one he did with Mick Jagger for "Dancing in the Street." I'll not be linking you to that. Sign your own death warrant there, pal, I ain't giving you the pen.
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