Saturday, February 13, 2016

B.B. King and David Bowie

Two new music documentaries were watched here last night.  The first was part of the "American Masters" series on PBS.  At first, the thought was that more information on B.B. King was not needed here.  I was lucky enough to see him a number of times over the years.  It would have been a big mistake to act on that thought.  Much of the film was focused on King's early years and his early influences, bringing back names that were known but not often thought about now.  That will send me down to the basement this next week to my turntable and album collection to have listen to Muddy, Sonny, Junior, Buddy, Albert, and others, that is if the weather improves and the electric heaters downstairs can do the job.

It was interesting to see that King's first performance before a predominantly white audience was in 1968 at the Fillmore West, much later than would have been expected.  First seen here at the Fillmore East in March 1970, King was the headliner along with Taj Mahal and John Mayall, not bad starters.

The second music film was "David Bowie: Five Years", also on PBS here.  It focused primarily on Bowie from the years 1977 to 1983, a period when he went from being Ziggy Stardust to an American style soul singer with Luther Vandross as his back-up, to Major Tom, and to the singer of the pop songs "Let's Dance" and "China Girl", and plus other personas.  Early on in the film it occurred to me that Bowie was the Andy Warhol of rock music, somewhat on the outside, always creating, always reinventing and, far, far more than Warhol, doing serious work.  That was a new thought here as I had not been a devoted follower, maybe a thought well known by many, and in fact the narrator of the program voiced that opinion as the documentary concluded.  Like many artists, Bowie went through periods of great productivity balanced by periods of seclusion.  He stopped making music or performing in any way from 2007 to 2013, just led a regular life in Manhattan not seeking attention.  Supposedly he lived in the east '60's. Toward the end there is a short clip of him and his wife in a standard deli somewhere in the city saying to each other, "We lead a nice life."

Two fine documentaries in a row were enough for a good night.


Blogger Allen Hengst said...

I still haven't seen the Bowie documentary on PBS, but am fairly certain that the scene you referenced — of Bowie and "his wife" at the deli — comes from his 2013 music video of "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)." The line in question is repeated starting at 1:20 in the video and, of course, the woman is Tilda Swinton ...

Another good one from his NEXT DAY album is "Valentine's Day" ...

But the best, by far, are from BLACK STAR. Checkout these, if you dare:

"Lazarus" ...

"Blackstar" ...

1:17 PM  
Blogger John Borden said...

Thanks for your comment Allen, maybe Bowie is just as much Brecht as Warhol. As I was writing the post yesterday I realized that you must be much more informed about Bowie than me. And you are.

12:20 PM  

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