Plato’s Pow Wow

R.I.P. The Legendary David Bowie



  1. Bornajoo says:

    Thanks Taxi. As mentioned on another post, he was the most important and influential musician in my life. I've been listening to David Bowie since I was 10 years old and I still remember hearing the ziggy stardust album for the first time in the early 70s and it blew me away. One of my favourite albums of all time is Hunky Dory which still sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it and I never get bored of it.

    And I absolutely adore this track you have chosen for us from the Aladin Sane album. Just beautiful with the cascading piano and haunting vocals. Great choice!

    He deserved a longer life for the incredible and amazing contribution he made.

    RIP David Bowie


    • Taxi says:

      I’m utterly heartbroken. Like you, I’ve been listening to him for decades (mostly the older 60’s and 70’s songs). Huge influence on me too. Met him quite a few times when I lived in London back in the late 70’s (my friend’s dad was friendly with him). Bowie, he was the nicest, most unassuming man you could ever meet. Beautiful inside and out. Incredibly refined intelligence. Impressively well read. I know for a fact that since 9/11, he spent a lot of time on the internet reading up on the middle east and Palestine. He was pro Palestine, pro justice, pro equality.

      There are so many songs by him to be grateful for.

      • seanmcbride says:

        This news came as a shock this morning — at first I thought it was a hoax. It’s difficult to believe that he is gone because he seemed eternally youthful.

        Bowie was what I call a high-frequency mind and personality — a true visionary — one might say illuminated. He left a major mark on the world. His passing has affected me more than I would have expected — many people are feeling real grief today.

    • Walid says:

      Wild is the Wind is a beautiful song that was mangled by Bowie. He sings it as if he's got a handful of marbles in his mouth.

      I saw the black and white George Cukor movie at its NYC premiere and thought it was superb  but like other movies that I had deemed superb, it was a commercial flop. In it was the screaming Anna Magnagni in a wildcat role who had just married rancher Anthony Quinn , whose wife had died and he had married her sister played  Magnagni but the new bride fell in love with the rancher's son (played by Anthony Franciosa) from a previous marriage. At night the rancher would get drunk and call his new wife by her dead sister's name, which sent her into a wild screaming fit.

      The movie resembles "Phaedra" played by Melina Mercouri:, a Jules Dassin movie about a woman that falls for her husband's son (Anthony Perkins) from her husband's  Raf Valone other marriage.Tragic end,

      Here's the song from the movie Wild is the Wind with the words actually articulated:

      • Walid says:

        Mathis recorded it in 1957 and Nina Simone's very first recording of it was in 1959. She recorded it a second time in 1966. Bowie's version in 1976 was inspired by Simone. A dozen or so singers recorded it over the years.

        Hard writing this on phone; laptop in repairs. 

  2. Taxi says:

    Bowie and Palestine – lyrics to his song, 'Loving the Alien':

    Watching them come and go
    The templars and the saracens
    They're traveling the holy land
    Opening telegrams

    Torture comes and torture goes
    Knights who'd give you anything
    They bear the cross of coeuf de leon
    Salvation for the mirror blind

    But if you pray all your sins are hooked upon the sky
    Pray and the heathen lie will disappear
    Prayers they hide the saddest view
    (Believing the strangest things, loving the alien)
    And your prayers they break the sky in two
    (Believing the strangest things, loving the alien)
    You pray til the break of dawn
    (Believing the strangest things, loving the alien)
    And you'll believe you're loving the alien
    (Believing the strangest things, loving the alien)

    Thinking of a different time
    Palestine a modern problem
    Bounty and your wealth in land
    Terror in a best laid plan

    Watching them come and go
    Tomorrows and the yesterdays
    Christians and the unbelievers
    Hanging by the cross and nail

  3. Bornajoo says:

    Thanks Taxi, again. How wonderful that you had the privilege of meeting him which also allowed him the privilege to meet you too. I'm absolutely sure he was pro Palestine because he was the ultimate universal human being and that position would have been natural for him. But I'm grateful for this additional information and insight. Another great track "wild is the wind". Thank you!

    • Taxi says:

      Nicolas Roeg, British film director and close friend of Bowie’s (they both worked on The Man Who Fell To Earth), well I happen to go to school with Roeg’s son when I was 14, sat next to him in class and I regularly chilled at the Roegs’ house after school. Roeg Jr and I took the same bus route everyday too – one day Nicolas and Bowie even turned up at our school and picked us up in a giant metallic red Cadillac. You’d appreciate this, Bornajoo: a red Cadillac driving through Mornington Crescent in 1976. Show stopper!

      • Bornajoo says:

        Unbelievable Taxi! Thanks for sharing these incredible details. I'm jealous (extremely!). I'm imagining that metallic red cadillac gliding past Mornington Crescent, whizzing past the Music Machine, flying along Camden High Street (you probably could in those relatively traffic free days), coasting up Chalk Farm Road and cruising up Haverstock Hill with Roeg senior and Bowie up front and Roeg junior and our Taxi in the back soaking up an incredible moment in time. Too good

      • Taxi says:

        Actually we headed west through Euston Road, Paddington, Notting Hill… to Kensington. Seeing Bowie’s side profile from the back seat, he looked like a bony bird to me (not very attractive at all). I must confess that I did not fully appreciate his true worth back then – I mean I knew he was famous and everything but as far as I was concerned, he was just another weird bimbo pop star wearing eye-shadow make-up and pop stars created nothing but ‘disposable’ art in my estimation back then. About a year after that ride, Roeg Jr, myself and a couple of other school friends went to Berlin (for Roeg Jr’s birthday) and we got invited to Bowie’s house there (Bowie lived in Berlin at the time). I began to realize Bowie’s ‘seriousness’ when I walked into his library room and saw a giant book shelf wall-to-wall and every book that I picked up out of curiosity had evidently been read.

        He once asked me, referring to my athletic physique: “Are you a dancer?” No, I said, I’m a canoeist (I was in the school’s canoeing team). He laughed and said, “a water babe, that’s superb”. For the longest time I went around telling people that I was a “water babe”. Heh.

      • seanmcbride says:


        You wrote:

        "I began to realize Bowie’s ‘seriousness’ when I walked into his library room and saw a giant book shelf wall-to-wall and every book that I picked up out of curiosity had evidently been read."

        Bowie apparently was an omnivorous polymath — see his list of 100 favorite books:

        "David Bowie's list of 100 favorite books reveal his true inner nerd"

        I recently recommended that you read "The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind" by Julian Jaynes, and there it is on Bowie's list (number 21). (In browsing the list I found that I've read with enthusiasm more than half of the items.)

        Here's the full list — fun to peruse:

        –David Bowie's 100 favorite books
        1. Interviews With Francis Bacon by David Sylvester
        2. Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse
        3. Room At The Top by John Braine
        4. On Having No Head by Douglass Harding
        5. Kafka Was The Rage by Anatole Broyard
        6. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
        7. City Of Night by John Rechy
        8. The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
        9. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
        10. Iliad by Homer
        11. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
        12. Tadanori Yokoo by Tadanori Yokoo
        13. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin
        14. Inside The Whale And Other Essays by George Orwell
        15. Mr. Norris Changes Trains by Christopher Isherwood
        16. Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art by James A. Hall
        17. David Bomberg by Richard Cork
        18. Blast by Wyndham Lewis
        19. Passing by Nella Larson
        20. Beyond The Brillo Box by Arthur C. Danto
        21. The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
        22. In Bluebeard’s Castle by George Steiner
        23. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
        24. The Divided Self by R. D. Laing
        25. The Stranger by Albert Camus
        26. Infants Of The Spring by Wallace Thurman
        27. The Quest For Christa T by Christa Wolf
        28. The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
        29. Nights At The Circus by Angela Carter
        30. The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
        31. The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
        32. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
        33. Herzog by Saul Bellow
        34. Puckoon by Spike Milligan
        35. Black Boy by Richard Wright
        36. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
        37. The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea by Yukio Mishima
        38. Darkness At Noon by Arthur Koestler
        39. The Waste Land by T.S. Elliot
        40. McTeague by Frank Norris
        41. Money by Martin Amis
        42. The Outsider by Colin Wilson
        43. Strange People by Frank Edwards
        44. English Journey by J.B. Priestley
        45. A Confederacy Of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
        46. The Day Of The Locust by Nathanael West
        47. 1984 by George Orwell
        48. The Life And Times Of Little Richard by Charles White
        49. Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom: The Golden Age of Rock by Nik Cohn
        50. Mystery Train by Greil Marcus
        51. Beano (comic, ’50s)
        52. Raw (comic, ’80s)
        53. White Noise by Don DeLillo
        54. Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom by Peter Guralnick
        55. Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage
        56. Writers At Work: The Paris Review Interviews edited by Malcolm Cowley
        57. The Sound Of The City: The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillete
        58. Octobriana And The Russian Underground by Peter Sadecky
        59. The Street by Ann Petry
        60. Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
        61. Last Exit To Brooklyn By Hubert Selby, Jr.
        62. A People’s History Of The United States by Howard Zinn
        63. The Age Of American Unreason by Susan Jacoby
        64. Metropolitan Life by Fran Lebowitz
        65. The Coast Of Utopia by Tom Stoppard
        66. The Bridge by Hart Crane
        67. All The Emperor’s Horses by David Kidd
        68. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
        69. Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess
        70. The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos
        71. Tales Of Beatnik Glory by Ed Saunders
        72. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
        73. Nowhere To Run The Story Of Soul Music by Gerri Hirshey
        74. Before The Deluge by Otto Friedrich
        75. Sexual Personae: Art And Decadence From Nefertiti To Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia
        76. The American Way Of Death by Jessica Mitford
        77. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
        78. Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
        79. Teenage by Jon Savage
        80. Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh
        81. The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
        82. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
        83. Viz (comic, early ’80s)
        84. Private Eye (satirical magazine, ’60s – ’80s)
        85. Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara
        86. The Trial Of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
        87. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes
        88. Maldodor by Comte de Lautréamont
        89. On The Road by Jack Kerouac
        90. Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonders by Lawrence Weschler
        91. Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton
        92. Transcendental Magic, Its Doctine and Ritual by Eliphas Lévi
        93. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
        94. The Leopard by Giusseppe Di Lampedusa
        95. Inferno by Dante Alighieri
        96. A Grave For A Dolphin by Alberto Denti di Pirajno
        97. The Insult by Rupert Thomson
        98. In Between The Sheets by Ian McEwan
        99. A People’s Tragedy by Orlando Figes
        100. Journey Into The Whirlwind by Eugenia Ginzburg


      • Taxi says:

        Thanks for bringing the list, Sean – wonderful stuff. I’ve probably read about 25-30% of what’s on the list.

        Most astonishing to find on his list is the highly literate but highly obscure ‘Maldoror, by Comte de Lautréamont’. Although ‘The Bridge, by Hart Crane’ gave me a pleasant surprise too.

      • seanmcbride says:


        David Bowie's mind reached out into some fairly esoteric corners of the intellectual universe.

        These days I rarely recommend books or authors to read — I recommend minds to follow — currently:

        1. Elon Musk
        2. Larry Page
        3. Nick Bostrom
        4. Ray Kurzweil
        5. Stephen Wolfram
        6. Tim Berners-Lee
        7. Yann LeCun

        — among others.

        If I were to follow only one publication, it would be MIT Technology Review. Why? Because cutting-edge technologies — especially advanced cognitive technologies — are upending the entire world from the ground up (including the arts, humanities and social sciences).

        A key problem with Mondoweiss: that big wide mysterious world out there that David Bowie was exploring — most Mondoweiss writers and commenters seem to have little interest in it. Political movements based on a single issue — particularly oriented around the travails of this or that ethnic or religious identity group — quickly become suffocating and tedious — mind-killing and spirit-killing.

        By the way, Bowie took a visionary interest in the Internet back in the late 1990s, as I recall.

        Wait — here we go:

        "David Bowie correctly predicted the future of the internet 16 years ago"


      • seanmcbride says:

        An example of what's happening in that big wide mysterious world out there:

        "The CIA-backed start-up that's taking over Palo Alto"

        Palantir Technologies, a highly secretive software developer whose name is derived from a magical crystal ball in J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel, has been gobbling up real estate in the upscale home of Stanford University, and — according to critics — uprooting a vibrant start-up ecosystem in the process….

        Palantir is notorious for its secrecy, and for good reason. Its software allows customers to make sense of massive amounts of sensitive data to enable fraud detection, data security, rapid health care delivery and catastrophe response.

        Government agencies are big buyers of the technology. The FBI, CIA, Department of Defense and IRS have all been customers. Between 30 and 50 percent of Palantir's business is tied to the public sector, according to people familiar with its finances. In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture arm, was an early investor.
        END QUOTE


  4. Bornajoo says:

    Thanks for the links Sean. He was also a genius with collaboration and he got the best out of so many other musicians. There would have been no "Transformer" by Lou Reed (produced by Bowie and Mick Ronson) as well as Iggy Pop and his best material and so many more. He was a great genius and human being who meant a lot to me and so many others.  I could go on all day and night (and for the rest of the week) so I'd better stop here and go and listen to Hunky Dory. For anyone in the UK there is a tribute on Channel 4 tonight around 10.30pm

    • seanmcbride says:


      I'm noticing a torrent of tributes to David Bowie flowing through my feeds today, and they are all intensely felt, smart and informed — I don't recall seeing this kind of spontaneous outpouring of feeling for the passing of any other public figure in any domain — which is a real measure of just how special was Bowie's genius.

      It always struck me as amazing that someone with the aesthetic intelligence, subtlety and elegance of, say, T.S. Eliot, was able to bestride the pop culture world like a colossus for decades — quite a feat.

      There are all the artists he helped with his generosity (like Lou and Iggy) — and then there are the many other artists he profoundly influenced in many ways.

      Bowie often struck me as being literally an alien — as a creature from another, more advanced solar system — who was viewing the world with curiosity from a higher plane — somewhat dispassionately but generally with benevolence.


      • Bornajoo says:

        Really terrific comment Sean. Your observations and summary are really spot on. I was just speaking with a friend on the phone and we both also described Bowie as an alien. You stated it so perfectly. He came, he gave, he left. I have also never witnessed such a massive, spontaneous and genuine outpouring of grief and tributes such as we have seen today for David Bowie. It's really something special

      • Bornajoo says:

        Many thanks for the book list Sean. I think I've only read around 15% (I'm ashamed to say) but some of them are going to be immediately added to my reading list!

  5. seanmcbride says:

    "If Richard Wagner’s operas represented the grandest fusion of all art forms (or Gesamtkunstwerk) that was possible in the late 19th century, David Bowie’s career in music and fashion and videos and film and celebrity came as close to that as anyone could in the late 20th century. If he had lived forever — and I thought he would; we all did — perhaps Bowie would have gotten around to doing a version of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in which he played all the parts, in half an hour." — Andrew O'Hehir

    "Rebel, alien, cynic, dreamer: David Bowie’s chimerical genius, and cultural importance, go way beyond pop music"

    (One of the very best Bowie tributes out there among hundreds or thousands.)


    "Bowie played Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige,” and I suspect that’s the best and most perfect role of his erratic acting career (in one of Nolan’s better films). Tesla was a scientific genius and technological innovator who perceived no clear boundary between the realm of science and the realm of magic, and who thought they might be different words for the same thing. Bowie was a magician and a technician in that same sense, and one of the most important cultural figures of the last 50 years. What we sometimes call a postmodern consciousness, or a “meta-awareness” — a cognizance of the created-ness of things, of our endless ingenuity in emulating a God we no longer believe in — was not a joke or a game to David Bowie. Or if it was, it was the joke that explained everything, as miraculous as any gem or any flower, the game that connects our souls to the stars."


  6. Taxi says:

    Of course, no Bowie tribute is complete without his iconic 'Ziggy Stardust':


    "Ziggy Stardust"

    Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Wierd and Gilly,
    And The Spiders from Mars.
    He played it left hand, but made it too far,
    Became the special man,
    Then we were Ziggy's Band.

    Ziggy really sang, screwed up eyes and screwed down hairdo
    Like some cat from Japan, he could lick 'em by smiling
    He could leave 'em to hang
    Here came on so loaded man, well hung and snow white tan.

    So where were the spiders while the fly tried to break our balls?
    Just the beer light to guide us.
    So we bitched about his fans and should we crush his sweet hands?

    Ziggy played for time, jiving us that we were Voodoo
    The kids was just crass,
    He was the naz
    With God given ass
    He took it all too far
    But boy could he play guitar.

    Making love with his ego Ziggy sucked up into his mind
    Like a leper messiah
    When the kids had killed the man
    I had to break up the band

    Ziggy played guitar

  7. Bornajoo says:

    Mick Ronson was the first of many collaborations which ended with Ziggy Stardust. Incredible guitarist, musician, performer and producer in his own right. He also died of liver cancer back in 1993.

    oh so you travelled West towards Kensington! Now I'm speechless finding out you also visited him in Berlin!  I won't lie and say I'm not incredibly jealous. I'm not surprised about the books, he had a huge thirst for knowledge and was just interested in so much.

    Thanks for posting the video and lyrics for Ziggy Stardust. Very strong and powerful memories are surging around my brain right now



    • Taxi says:


      To be honest with you, having been surrounded by famed political figures as a kid, having ran with arty circles in London in my youth and having lived in LA for a couple of decades and met quite a few ‘celebs’ there – well, I’m kinda embarrassed by it all – I really do cringe at the thought that I might come across as a name-dropper when I tell a little ‘celeby’ story here and there. I’m really not a fan of the ostentatious or the braggart at all. One of my worst experiences in public was getting dragged to a red carpet event in Hollywood – I was mortified practically into cardiac arrest to be surrounded by so many egomaniacs and sycophants and flashing light bulbs – I was so intensely embarrassed to be with the lot of them and I had to leave literally after only a few minutes while vowing: never again!

  8. Bornajoo says:

    Ha ha! I can imagine you running for the exit and thinking to yourself how the hell you ended up at one of those horrid events. You need to be a certain type of person to actually like and enjoy those events and having a huge ego is a prerequisite I think. We all know that ain't you and you're no name dropper either. But your road in life led you to those places and to those situations and it's great hearing all about it from your own perspective. Had Bowie not passed away yesterday we would have never known that you not only loved his music but that you had the pleasure of meeting him more than once, including in Berlin! I am doing my best to lose the intense feeling of jealousy but I'm losing the battle. Hopefully it will pass. I would have loved to have met him just for a few seconds just to say "Thank you".

  9. Danaa says:

    Can you guys believe it that I hardly ever heard of Bowie, much less listened to any of his songs, till just now that he passed away?

    In my defense I have only one thing to put forth, really – that I have always been singularly and intensely in the classical music world. I was sucked in early having heard Dvorzak's "From The new World"  on a scratchy, low quality radio, and haven't looked back since. There was just so much to listen to – over and over most of them, till I knew nearly every note, and even now, it feels like I haven't scratched the surface. I just  "discovered' Brahms' first sextet and it's like heaven opened for a few minutes to reveal what it was all about.

    With so much to hear – and so often, I had no patience or time for pop music, other than as something to dance to.  My background in anything pop goes as far back as the beattles "yellow submarine" (which could almost be thought of as "classic" if  only it could all be played as one piece, with variations. Once in a while I'll accidentally hear a song, perhaps an old one from the 70's and think that I should really find time to listen to more of that popular genre, but the time never seems to materialize.


    It is so bad for me that I work out in the gym nowadays to something like Wagner's Lohengrin or Brahms' requiem, and hardly notice the time passing, since rapture swallows it up. An hour later, with better toned muscles, I'll recommend going to the Gym to anyone I meet who seems to have a down day, or year or forever. Of course, I don't think Lohengrin will cure the ails that bring my fellow humans down though I can see how it'd drive good old king Ludvig mad, even, or especially, not having a gym to  keep one's body and soul in tune.

    needless to say, I never attened a rock concert in my life and can't tell a hip from a hop, or metal from brass. I do and did however like jazz even if the best pieces are not gym listening material. I like much of the traditional jazz pieces for the same reason classical spoke to me so clearly and obssessively. I like the musical theme development, which needs many minutes to develop. I like the variations and the back and forth between brilliant instruments. The piece may be melodious or less so, but it always requires an intensity and focused listening, without which it fades into the background, as it does for most people. And most of time I really like the absence of words (which includes Opera, where the words are more like string instruments, not quite meant to be understood, just decorate the music, as ornamentation).

    Which brings me to Bowie and the accolades directed his way upon his passing. Clearly he wrote music that pleasured many, so I listened to the song taxi put up here, and found it grows on you. If people have more good pieces like this to quote I'll be grateful. I think perhaps it's time to broaden my horizons some….never too late, so they say, right?


    • seanmcbride says:


      It's wonderful that you were so honest about your musical tastes and development. 🙂

      My personal opinion: the greatest classical music, the greatest jazz and the greatest rock music all attain the highest levels of aesthetic achievement. Some of the greatest art in world history has been expressed in short forms (like the lyric poems of Keats and Shelley), and the best rock music operates at that level of power and sophistication.

      I have undergone a strange transformation in my musical tastes during the last year, after receiving a free subscription to Sirius XM radio for my car. I used to detest classical opera — I literally recoiled from it — but I began to listen to bits and pieces of Puccini, Verdi and Wagner on Met Opera, while channel surfing, and something clicked big time in my head.  I am now an opera fanatic — and a Wagner fanatic in particular — I think he represents the pinnacle of genius for classical music. Lately I've been listening to opera nonstop — the Ring Cycle in particular — and have been blown away by what I am hearing.

      My favorite David Bowie song is "Heroes" — there are many versions of it out there — here is one:

      Either you feel it or you don't.

      Roger Waters has been mentioned often in the great Mideast debates — I think Pink Floyd's music will survive in a vital way for as long as that of Bach, Mozart and Beethoven.

      A rock band that has a Wagnerian feel to me — Alice in Chains — the music goes very deep.


    • seanmcbride says:


      Some of the best rock music reaches the level of Puccini or Wagner, in my opinion — mind-boggling musicianship, visionary, totally transcendent — for instance:

      “Rush (Cleveland 2011) [24]. Far Cry”

      If Puccini or Wagner were miraculously resurrected and heard this, I think they would get this music and admire it.

      The greatest music rises above particular styles and historical eras — it vibrates powerfully forever.

      Hell, I even admire Frank Sinatra (pop music) these days — I group him in the same class with Miles Davis (jazz) for purity, clarity and nuance of voice — like the very best ancient Greek and Roman poetry.

      Thank God for inspired art — it rises far above the level of politics, which is often a dreary cesspool.

      • Walid says:

        "If Puccini or Wagner were miraculously resurrected and heard this (Rush), I think they would get this music and admire it." (Sean)


        I don't think so, Sean. I think they would rush back to being among the dead. Next you'll be telling me those cacophonic guitarists are in the same class as Paco de Lucia and John Mills.

      • seanmcbride says:


        Are those Canadian hooligans creating an intolerable din in your ears? 🙂

        Others hear cathedral sonic splendor and the shimmery beating of golden angel wings.

        Those are two great guitarists you mentioned, one flamenco, the other classical. Not world class innovators, but virtuosos in their established traditions.

        An observation: over the last half century we have seen a total disintegration of meaningful distinctions between “serious” art and popular art. The most important serious art — in film, music and literature — now often becomes the most popular art, and with great speed. Humanity (at least in the West) now devours what was once described as challenging avant-garde art from the instant it is conceived — nothing is too arcane or esoteric or experimental to go mainstream big time. I happen to think that this is a good thing. Art thrives by shattering icons and breaking new ground — by rebuilding the world from the ground up again and again, each time with a fresh perspective. Innovators need room to breathe, to make it new.

      • Walid says:

        Sean, it's not just the classics guys, if you want to compare them with ones really breaking new ground, do it with Pat Methany or with the 2 or 3 dozen other famous guitarists.

      • seanmcbride says:


        I like Pat Metheny, but these guitarists even more (just off the top of my head):

        1. Alex Lifeson (Rush)
        2. Angus Young (AC/DC)
        3. David Gilmour (Pink Floyd)
        4. Eddie Van Halen (Van Halen)
        5. Eric Clapton
        6. Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains)
        7. Jimi Hendrix
        8. Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin)
        9. Joe Walsh (The Eagles)
        10. Kurt Cobain (Nirvana)
        11. Mike McCready (Pearl Jam)
        12. Randy Rhoads (Ozzie Osbourne)
        13. Slash (Guns N' Roses)
        14. Stevie Ray Vaughan
        15. The Edge (U2)
        16. Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath)

        Think of David Gilmour's performance in Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. Or Joe Walsh's performance (with Don Felder) in the Eagles' Hotel California.

        Here is a fun video, btw:

        "Top 10 Guitar Solos"

        As always, it's not about the number of notes or the speed of notes (virtuosity, technical chops) — it's about how beautifully the notes are put together (feeling, vision, spirituality and originality).

        Arguments about greatest guitarists rage across the Internet and are usually interesting.

        Tributes to David Bowie are still flowing in, by the way — and they make for much more valuable and inspirational reading than the great Mideast debates.

        This caught my eye:

        "David Bowie Taught Me All I Need to Know About Innovation"


      • Walid says:

        Sean, to each his own taste in music. No right or wrong choices on that one. I never developed the taste for heavy metal and  all these twangy sounds  on the guitar were showstoppers with the kids.

        BTW, one of the greats I saw at a Jazz concert over 20 years back was Metheny. He had a Brazilian brass and bongos ensemble with him and they were all great. musicians. I met many greats on Saturday evening after the bars closed at a small basement on the wrong side of the tracks where musician that had been playing chas chas all night to pay the rent were now free to jam to the music they really loved, which was ad libbed jazz if we got lucky. famous musicians on tour such as Gillespie, Armstrong, Basie would drop in and jam with the iocal boys until the sun came up. It was the Black Bottom and all they served were chicken wings and soft drinks. The musicians brought whatever they liked in green seven up bottles. The place was razed to the ground to make way for an expressway. Years later the Black Bottom opened in luxurious setting in a posh district and had a liquor license, but the place was utterly boring.

      • seanmcbride says:


        The appreciation of art is entirely subjective but it can be enlightening to argue about conflicting aesthetic preferences. (Why, say, does someone think that John Coltrane is a more influential musician than Miles Davis, or that Richard Wagner is a more influential composer than Giuseppe Verdi, or that The Velvet Underground is a more influential band than Jefferson Airplane?)

        Great story about the Black Bottom — those must have been the days. I was curious about the origin of that term and here it is:

        Wikipedia: Black Bottom (dance)

        Some of the best jazz I have ever heard has been in small, smokey, shady, sketchy clubs.

        Pat Metheney has done some interesting work with synthetic guitar — definitely a musician of note.

        Re: the kiddies and youngsters of heavy metal — most of them are senior citizens now — ancient patriarchs. 🙂 It amazes me that some of them are still pressing the pedal to the metal.

        The AI angle on this discussion: increasingly computational methods are being used to graph and analyze patterns of influence in music and all the other arts with minute precision — it's a fascinating research front.


      • Walid says:

        "Some of the best jazz I have ever heard …" (Sean)

        Sean, I'm an old dog at this, I go way way back to great jazz at one or other of the Village's  jazz rooms. Probably before many here were born.

        The original Black Bottom club was in Montreal's Black neighbouthood and most probably why it had such a name. It was in a basement that could hold at most about 50 or 60 people and going down into that densely smoke-filled basement with lousy acoustics that made you feel like your head was inside a ringing church bell,  it seemed as if you were going down to the bottom. On one night, Gillespie walked in at around 3 am with his funny horn and joined the group of 5 musicians already cramped together playing on a mini stage about a foot off the ground.

        But the name itself was not original, it was a piece (Black Bottom Stomp) in 1926 by Jelly Roll Morton and his Red Hot Peppers Dixieland band.

      • seanmcbride says:


        Nice bit of writing in that last comment of yours — and a cool video. I've got to say that I've enjoyed these exchanges on music much more than all the agonized verbiage on Mideast politics over the years on Mondoweiss and elsewhere.

        Regarding jazz club scenes, if I had a time machine I would use it to visit the Village Vanguard in Greenwich Village in 1961, when John Coltrane was playing at his peak:

        "The Complete 1961 Village Vanguard Recordings"

        On the recordings you can hear the clinking of glasses in the background, feel the human warmth, in the breaks between the titanic pieces, which rank among the greatest music ever made.

        Btw, whoever sent me this:

        "Alex was in charge of managing the David Bowie account for an interagency project including CIA, NSA, MI6 and GCHQ."

        Quite a flight of fancy. You should write a novel.


      • Walid says:

        Sean, went a few times to the Blue Note but never to the Vanguard or the Gate. Elsewhere, I saw Armstrong although I was not a fan of Dixieland and Basie, who appeared to be almost falling asleep at the keyboard and with a wide grin on his face occasionally and lazily hitting the odd note and the music was coming mostly from his big band and the Glen Miller Band (minus Miller, of course) although I never liked the big band sound but It was an opportunity for a young guy like me to get to see famous musicians up close.

        Yes, it's more agreeable to talk music instead of Israel. I overdosed on Israel/Palestine at MW and tried to talk about something else  but the site has a fixation on what's wrong with Israel and Palestine and its neverending miseries serve as a  vehicle to get to talk about Israel's problems. In general, it's a good site with great commenters. .

      • Walid says:

        Sean, the versatility of Wynton Marsalis going from classical to jazz with the same ease is amazing.. Here's a double performance in the same video at the 1984 Grammy Awards:


  10. Bornajoo says:

    Hi Danaa

    I would recommend Hunky Dory which was released in 1971 but was a commercial flop at that time. However many of the tracks were re-released later on.  It's my favourite Bowie album and here is Life On Mars:


  11. Taxi says:

    I wanna also give a heartfelt R.I.P. shoutout to Lemmy Kilminster, lyricist, vocalist and bass player with the iconic metal band, Motorhead.

    Lemmy passed away about a week before Bowie did – broke my heart too.  I knew Lemmy in London four decades ago and I still knew him in LA, occasionally running into him.  He too was a unique, kind and philosophical individual, despite his rough image and exterior.  A righteous soul and a justice lover through and through.  An avid reader – a huge fan of WW1 poets and the history of 20th century wars.  100% pro Palestine.  He always got into trouble for merely being a collector of nazi paraphernalia.  There is not a fascist bone in Lemmy's body – the opposite is but true – he abhorred racism, discrimination, anything establishment and police state – and he was a great conversationalist, a witty political cynic and satirist, English style.  R.I.P. dearest Lemmy.

    "You know if the Israeli Army had the best uniforms, I'd collect them –  but they don't "- Lemmy.

    The Tao of Lemmy: 18 Great Quotes From the Motorhead Frontman | Rolling Stone

    • Bornajoo says:

      Thanks for that Taxi. My brothers, friends and I were all serious Motorhead fans. Must have seen them over 20 times (no exaggeration). Lemmy was a wonderful person who always had time to speak to his fans and I met him a number of times before and after gigs at the Music Machine and Dingwalls among other venues. You are right that his passing away has been overshadowed by Bowie. I still remember those gigs vividly; lots of dry ice and LOUD!

      Thanks again for mentioning him here


  12. seanmcbride says:

    "Bowie's death marks the Twilight of the Rock Gods" (Neil McCormick)

    With David Bowie’s final curtain-call, we are witnessing the end of an era, as the original stars of the explosive rock culture that convulsed the world in the second half of the 20th century are slowly extinguished. We are entering the Twilight of the Rock Gods….

    In his dazzling artistry, daring style, unabashed intelligence, intensity of emotion, cultivation of magic, mystery and imagination, Bowie was a figure who bridged high and low culture, reverberating on so many different levels….

    “Heroes” (complete with ironic quotation marks) was barely a hit in 1977, but by 2012 it was the unofficial theme of the London Olympics, completing an unlikely journey from defiance in the face of despair to bellicose anthem of athletic valour. Bowie’s death was mourned by a prime minister, indicating just how far he had travelled from being a symbol of counterculture transgression to a shared icon of mainstream tolerance. Yet, until the very end, Bowie himself remained unfathomably mysterious.


  13. seanmcbride says:

    "The 10 Most Iconic David Bowie Music Videos"

    The spookiest and most haunting — "Ashes to Ashes" (1980) — ineffably strange. I would be lying if I said I haven't sometimes entertained the notion that David Bowie was an actual alien.


    Wikipedia: Nordic aliens

    To the extent that David Bowie was "political," it wasn't in quite the same way that most people are political.


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