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The Annotated Jagger/Bowie "Dancing in the Street"
January 17, 2012 10:35 AM   Subscribe

...there’s some desperation to this junk version of “Dancing in the Street,” with both parties trying to affirm their A-1 celebrity status. One of the more pernicious effects of the whole Live Aid/Farm Aid/Band Aid spectacle was to cement the hierarchy of the “legend” rock acts and a smaller tier of anointed successors from the slightly-younger generation (Tom Petty, Sting, Dire Straits, U2). It was the height of the Boomer Counter-Reformation. The late Eighties would see the over-publicized returns of everyone from Steve Winwood to the Monkees to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, to a revamped George Harrison to a MOR version of Pink Floyd to Robbie Robertson pretending that he was Peter Gabriel (a version of Gabriel who couldn’t sing) to an all-star Yes and a Zeppelin-sampling Robert Plant, culminating in the return of the “revitalized” Stones in 1989, the touring company now reincorporated into a gleaming multinational. As Marcello Carlin said back when Popular covered this single: “Suddenly we were once again reminded who in pop and rock mattered and who didn’t…With their massacre of “Dancing In The Street,” Bowie and Jagger seemed to relish rubbing it in.“
-The Annotated Jagger/Bowie "Dancing in the Street"
posted by anazgnos (180 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
Okay, yeah, the song may have been a drag in and of itself.

But I've heard stories that, during the Live Aid original live broadcast, a number of people did actually throw open their windows during this song and go out and dance in the street because they were so swept up in the whole spirit of "big huge global event that has a lot of awesome people and HOLY SHIT Queen's performance was awesome and this particular song is a party song so yay". So yeah, out of context it may have been lame, but that kind of wasn't the point.

and it's still a damn site better than anything you see on American Idol so nyah.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 AM on January 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


its just a charity record
posted by Ironmouth at 10:41 AM on January 17, 2012


...there’s some desperation to this junk version of “Dancing in the Street,”

"some" representing the understatement of the year so far.

(As was said on "Family Guy," That happened, and we let it happen.)
posted by chavenet at 10:43 AM on January 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I heard that Jagger had 38 quarts of sperm removed from his stomach.
posted by thelonius at 10:43 AM on January 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


My God. That's bad. Cringe-inducing Vomit. Couldn't watch their happy act.
posted by noaccident at 10:43 AM on January 17, 2012


Duelling egos, as we probably did'nt call it at the time
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:43 AM on January 17, 2012


Ugh, thank you. The resurgence of Fogie Rock was truly baffling to me at the time. I just really hope we don't see the comebacks of Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth and Urge Overkill a few years from now.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:45 AM on January 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


I just really hope we don't see the comebacks of Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth and Urge Overkill a few years from now.

DON'T EVEN JOKE ABOUT THAT
posted by The Whelk at 10:46 AM on January 17, 2012 [27 favorites]


I heard that Jagger had 38 quarts of sperm removed from his stomach.

I heard it was Rod Stewart and it was 137 quarts. Michael Belcher's cousin Robbie told me and he's pretty reliable. He's the one who told me about the Mars Bar incident and that Bubble Yum contained spider eggs.
posted by bondcliff at 10:47 AM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]




Empath, linking to that song is punishable by a severe fine.
posted by The Whelk at 10:49 AM on January 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


I've previously gone on the record as defending much of Bowie's 8's output but at that time I hadn't (and still haven't) forgiven him for this cover.

None the less, if you're going to annotate just one painful, horrible part of 80's pop music, you might as well start at the nadir. In that spirit, I've liked this FPP.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:51 AM on January 17, 2012


Up! Town! Girl! Na na na na na na na up! town! girl!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:53 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


chavenet: "(As was said on "Family Guy," That happened, and we let it happen.)"

The same could be said of the fact that this was arguably the laziest cutaway gag that Family Guy has ever done. I mean...they literally just called it the "Gayest video ever made" completely out of context, and then showed the entire thing.

And I say this as someone who appreciates Family Guy when the writers are actually trying. They're capable of some fairly clever stuff. That particular gag is in competition for the nadir of the show though.
posted by schmod at 10:54 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is why I have absolutely no nostalgia for the 80s and never will.
posted by tommasz at 10:55 AM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Mick is doing a great parody of Mick Jagger there.
posted by The Whelk at 10:57 AM on January 17, 2012


Still not the worst song produced by a boomer rock band in the 80s.

Hey, I was just singing that the other day.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:57 AM on January 17, 2012


The Whelk: "Empath, linking to that song is punishable by a severe fine."

It's a terrible song, but this video of two college guys poorly dancing along to that song while galloping throughout Colonial Williamsburg holds a special place in my heart, if only because it manages to perfectly capture the utter despair that comes with living in Williamsburg (for instance, the fact that a Starship soundtrack is somehow a vast improvement).
posted by schmod at 10:58 AM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


That website is awesome. I'm reading the bit on "Under Pressure" and how it came about and it's fantastic.
posted by zomg at 11:01 AM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


most of the lead vocals cut in a single take

What an awkward way of saying there were some lead vocal overdubs.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:03 AM on January 17, 2012


damn this is good blog. Totally right how that 2 second Bowie crescendo basically saves "Under Pressure" from being a loose mess.
posted by The Whelk at 11:07 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Part of me wants to shout in this thread that the Bowie/Jagger cover of Dancing In The Street is the worst song ever recorded. But then I remember that there's also a Van Halen version.

And then I remember that the worst thing in the history of audio, hands down, is the Grateful Dead cover of Dancing In The Street on Terrapin Station.

Listen to those two and you'll be begging to hear the Bowie/Jagger version just to clean out your brain.
posted by The World Famous at 11:08 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The author dismisses the idea that this cover and video were just Bad Cocaine Ideas, but I really don't see any other way this thing gets made. And it's a great anti-coke ad, because there is just nothing, was nothing, cool about it.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:11 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


empath et al: reportedly (and sadly I can not find information to back this up, so Christ only knows where I heard it) John Flansburgh and John Linnell of They Might Be Giants were driving one day and 'We Built This City' came on the radio and they pulled over to listen to it without interruption because they thought, "This is so bad it can never possibly be played again, and this is the only time we'll ever hear it in our lives."
posted by komara at 11:14 AM on January 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


empath Knew that was going to be the link target before I even clicked on it!
posted by Windopaene at 11:17 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow. What a weirdly overblown dismantling of a charity-song lark. The notion that this is desecrating some profound civil rights anthem is a real stretch. Martha Reeves called it a "party song." Yes, it got associated after it's original release with the inner-city riots, but there's nothing in the song itself to suggest any of that. Jagger and Bowie always sounded to me like they were having a good time when they actually sang the song. And OMG-ing at the look of 30-year old videos is like OMG-ing at 30-year old fashions. If you think it all looks horribly dated and silly, just wait about ten years when it will all be the height of fashion again (see: the seventies currently).
posted by yoink at 11:19 AM on January 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I heard that Rod Stewart had Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop & David Bowie removed from his stomach.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:21 AM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


And OMG-ing at the look of 30-year old videos is like OMG-ing at 30-year old fashions.

It was terrible at the time. There has never been a time when reasonable people did not OMG at the look of that video. Ever.
posted by The World Famous at 11:22 AM on January 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


Still not the worst song produced by a boomer rock band in the 80s.

Andy Partridge calls that "The worst song in the history of foreverness." It's what finally knocked Billy Don't Be a Hero off that same pedestal for me. Bleargh.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:23 AM on January 17, 2012


yoink: No, those clothes looked awful then and they look awful now. I say with some confidence that those outfits will never be cool.

Also, I had blocked the memory of that slo-mo leap Bowie does with his coat flapping about him. *shudder*
posted by stinkycheese at 11:25 AM on January 17, 2012


I just really hope we don't see the comebacks of Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth and Urge Overkill a few years from now.

Comebacks? They would have to have been good once to have comebacks.
posted by rocket88 at 11:28 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen this video since I was six, but the Bowie doorway kicks at the 1.41 mark have always been indelibly etched into my brain.

So it had that going for it, I guess.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:31 AM on January 17, 2012


Urge Overkill was really good. And their new album could probably have been good if it had been made into an actual album rather than what sounds like rough demos sent to market without any additional work.
posted by The World Famous at 11:31 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The same could be said of the fact that this was arguably the laziest cutaway gag that Family Guy has ever done. I mean...they literally just called it the "Gayest video ever made" completely out of context, and then showed the entire thing.

Schmod: I heartily agree, it's a very low point.

That said, whenever I try to explain to children why they shouldn't watch "Family Guy," I always refer to this episode. I mean, they SHOW THE WHOLE BOWIE / JAGGER VIDEO. That's just sick.
posted by chavenet at 11:31 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Loved bustin' a move to that video when I was a kid. Love it more now that everyone hates it.
posted by nutate at 11:32 AM on January 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm with yoink. There are a million things that are 30 years old that make no sense*. Riffing on any of them is fine for Friday night with friends, but I'm not going to change my worldview because of it. Some of you either don't remember this being a hit and in constant rotation on MTV or you're just trying to remember the world as a better place.

Like 50% of the membership here! FACED! PSYCH! And assorted other out of date sayings.

I'm With Stupid ↓

posted by yerfatma at 11:32 AM on January 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


As far as I am concerned, this just never happened. Just. Not. Listening.
posted by thelonius at 11:33 AM on January 17, 2012


Adulthood is learning that everything you thought was great as a kid is actually terrible.
posted by gurple at 11:35 AM on January 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I remember this being a hit. I even remember it seeming, uh, good. But those clothes were always awful. Jagger even grabs Bowie's collar as he sings "it doesn't matter what you wear", c'mon.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:35 AM on January 17, 2012


Ugh, thank you. The resurgence of Fogie Rock was truly baffling to me at the time.
X2

That was a truly, truly horrible time. Though many will take this as sacrilege, I'd add Tina Turner to the list. That Thunderdome image and the creaky shrieking of What's Love Got To Do With It? Gods...the horror. The horror.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:38 AM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I remember being appalled that these two old guys thought they could do justice to a classic feel-good party-time Van Halen song.
posted by straight at 11:38 AM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some of you either don't remember this being a hit and in constant rotation on MTV or you're just trying to remember the world as a better place.

Oh, the world was a terrible place then, as it is now. But Bowie/Jagger was not the zenith of terrible 80s music video. No, that honor goes to David Lee Roth.
posted by The World Famous at 11:39 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thorzdad: "That was a truly, truly horrible time. Though many will take this as sacrilege, I'd add Tina Turner to the list. That Thunderdome image and the creaky shrieking of What's Love Got To Do With It? Gods...the horror. The horror"

C'mon, Thorzdad. Can't you just get beyond Thunderdome?
posted by charred husk at 11:39 AM on January 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


It's strange how some of you who should know better (because you lived through it) seem to have also forgotten, for example, this. Same loud garish clothes, same blustering, gesticulating Mick Jagger, same cover of venerated 1960s tune, etc., etc. But somehow both this and "Dancing in the Streets" and many, many more cringe-inducing videos and songs were vastly popular back then, and probably amongst your cooler-than-cool set, as well, no matter how much you try to disown it all now.
posted by blucevalo at 11:41 AM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


That was a truly, truly horrible time. Though many will take this as sacrilege, I'd add Tina Turner to the list. That Thunderdome image and the creaky shrieking of What's Love Got To Do With It? Gods...the horror. The horror.


Steve Albini:
Do you ever get a song stuck in your head? It happens to most people. Some little ditty or the memorable part of a hit song or a carpet company jingle, you try to go to sleep and there it is, doot-doot-doo-ing away in the back of your mind. Super annoying.

Have you also noticed how the song "Private Dancer" by Tina Turner never ever gets stuck in your head, no matter how many times you've been forced to hear it? That's because "Private Dancer" is so formless and hideous that there isn't even enough of a tune there to get stuck.

"Private Dancer" is the absolute zenith of the art of 80s schlock. There's a sort of synthetic rhythm, and some schmeer of digital drama provided by the Yamaha DX7 keyboard, but no actual music. On top of it all, a creaking, tuneless yowl of a vocal, rattling up from the guts of a parchment-skinned old woman trying to sexy at you. Hideous.

So, "Private Dancer" makes the perfect palate-cleanser. Whenever you have a song stuck in your head, force yourself to mentally trudge through the song "Private Dancer," at least as much as you can remember. It also helps to imagine the video of a once-stunning, now-cartoonish Tina Turner, the last of the pain pills and red wine finally down her throat, heaving her clattering bones around the soundstage trying to sexy.

Run that through there for twenty seconds, and it's better than Drano. It clears-out whatever was stuck and leaves on its own, leaving no trace behind.
posted by anazgnos at 11:43 AM on January 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


There will always be Wilson Phillips
posted by KokuRyu at 11:46 AM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tina Turner is foxier at age 72 than Steve Albini could ever dream of being.
posted by blucevalo at 11:46 AM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Derail: I had a friend that wanted to make Steve Albini-babies.
posted by WASP-12b at 11:46 AM on January 17, 2012


But Bowie/Jagger was not the zenith of terrible 80s music video. No, that honor goes to David Lee Roth.

Sorry, no.
posted by COBRA! at 11:47 AM on January 17, 2012


But Bowie/Jagger was not the zenith of terrible 80s music video. No, that honor goes to David Lee Roth.

Sorry, no.


Those can't begin to compare to this.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:52 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was in college when this came out.

Even then I felt sad that two performers who had make some great music in their prime, had ended up doing... this.
posted by freakazoid at 11:53 AM on January 17, 2012


Those can't begin to compare to this.

The pipe-helix keyboard stand almost redeems it. Almost.
posted by COBRA! at 11:54 AM on January 17, 2012


The live performance is even sadder, with Paul McCartney's game performance on rhythm guitar and utility mic-catching somehow the saddest part.
posted by anazgnos at 11:55 AM on January 17, 2012


Those can't begin to compare to this.

I'm sorry. Did you actually watch the entire Yankee Rose video? Separate Ways is a stupid video. But nobody in it is wearing a sequined combination dickie/codpiece with ass-less, crotch-less spandex and a tassel over his asscrack.
posted by The World Famous at 11:55 AM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I also guessed which song empath was linking to before I clicked on it, and after I did I realized it was the first time I was hoping I was being Rickrolled.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


A friend of mine isn't much of a singer. He sort of sounds like Born in the USA-era Springsteen after a stroke. So of course he loves to sing karaoke. One night, after what must have been too much whiskey and beer, he decided to take a crack at "Private Dancer." What Albini said is exactly right: there was really nothing there to ruin.

It was still embarrassing.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:56 AM on January 17, 2012


Its worth repeating that this is a great blog. Here's one bit from his entry on Modern Love:
In “Modern Love”‘s circular 24-bar chorus (repeated three times in all), with its equally cyclical chord progression of the first four degrees of C major (C, D, Em, Fmaj7), Bowie starts out trying out “modern love,”4 finds it wanting, and takes solace in traditional marriage (“church on time”). But tradition’s just as empty, so he puts his trust in humanist religion (‘God and man!”) and finds that equally barren. (These moves are echoed harmonically by the fall back to the tonic, C major, with each new disappointment). The chorus closes with an echo of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and “God,” Bowie checking off everything that’s failed him—no religion, no confessions, no love. Nothing means anything, nothing works anymore. So the chorus ends back where it started, on “modern love,” because it’s the most appealing of the false gods.
posted by euphorb at 11:57 AM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


But nobody in it is wearing a sequined combination dickie/codpiece with ass-less, crotch-less spandex and a tassel over his asscrack.

Yeah, but, that's standard-issue Dave.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:58 AM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry. Did you actually watch the entire Yankee Rose video? Separate Ways is a stupid video. But nobody in it is wearing a sequined combination dickie/codpiece with ass-less, crotch-less spandex and a tassel over his asscrack.

It's a very compelling song, though.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:59 AM on January 17, 2012


The look Bowie gives Jagger at 2:18 is priceless.
posted by Pendragon at 12:03 PM on January 17, 2012


That said, whenever I try to explain to children why they shouldn't watch "Family Guy," I always refer to this episode. I mean, they SHOW THE WHOLE BOWIE / JAGGER VIDEO. That's just sick.

Yes, but the Garrett Morris, Headmaster of the New York School for the Deaf, and the Muddy Waters cutaway almost make up for the Bowie/Jagger thing.
posted by Billiken at 12:04 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That website is awesome. I'm reading the bit on "Under Pressure" and how it came about and it's fantastic.

Agreed. I like very much that is it is credited to "Queen & David Bowie." And now we live in an age where it seems no one can release a single without the tiny word Feat. in the performer's credit. This is as nice a bit of writing as you can find to sum up the changes in the last thirty years of music:

“Under Pressure” slipped out in late 1981: a collective anonymous act. The single sleeve had no photographs, its video was cobbled together by David Mallet from stock footage, Queen and Bowie never performed it live together and never gave a single interview about “Under Pressure.” And it hit #1.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:10 PM on January 17, 2012


The World Famous: "Those can't begin to compare to this.

I'm sorry. Did you actually watch the entire Yankee Rose video? Separate Ways is a stupid video. But nobody in it is wearing a sequined combination dickie/codpiece with ass-less, crotch-less spandex and a tassel over his asscrack.
"

You say that like its a bad thing...
posted by Reverend John at 12:12 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm so sorry, but Dancing in the Street by Mick Jagger and David Bowie is the absolute PINNACLE of music.... on Codeine!
posted by carsonb at 12:15 PM on January 17, 2012


You say that like its a bad thing...

I sometimes forget that current trends and marketing (e.g. Lady Gaga) have convinced a certain portion of society that there is merit to terrible, terrible crap.
posted by The World Famous at 12:19 PM on January 17, 2012


If there were no terrible crap, we would have to invent some.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:22 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Billy Squier's 'Rock Me Tonite' is also a video.
posted by box at 12:23 PM on January 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Yankee Rose" should be shown to middle-school kids when cops come to visit to talk about the dangers of cocaine.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:27 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


In “Modern Love”‘s circular 24-bar chorus (repeated three times in all), with its equally cyclical chord progression of the first four degrees of C major (C, D, Em, Fmaj7), Bowie starts out trying out “modern love,”4 finds it wanting, and takes solace in traditional marriage blah blah blahdity blah .....

All this time spent painstakingly examining the inner workings and contradictions of an album that Bowie himself admits was more Nile Rodgers' album than his own.
posted by blucevalo at 12:27 PM on January 17, 2012


Have you also noticed how the song "Private Dancer" by Tina Turner never ever gets stuck in your head

Where do I file for my refund? That's happened to me multiple times, usually when slightly hung over.
posted by yerfatma at 12:29 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


That is one fantastic blog right there. A real labor of love.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:40 PM on January 17, 2012


Even then I felt sad that two performers who had make some great music in their prime, had ended up doing... this.

Yeah, exhibit A is Exile & Aladdin Sane. Exhibit B is... from the negative, inside-out, evil Star Trek Universe.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:42 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked "Steamy Windows". The chorus, anyway.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:42 PM on January 17, 2012


I am losing HOURS in that bowie Blog, I'm just gonna quote this wonderful bit


"Between 1973 and 1977, David Bowie waged an inadvertent guerrilla war against television, particularly American television. In these years, Bowie appeared on some of the most popular TV programs of the era and disrupted them. He may not even have meant to, for it wasn’t that Bowie was wild or outrageous when he showed up on Dinah!, or Cher, or Soul Train, or The Dick Cavett Show. If anything, he was gracious, charming, polite, and happy to flatter the host.

Yet Bowie’s emaciated coke-wraith appearance was disturbing purely as a visual, and even while sitting on a couch bantering with a host, or singing a medley of awful contemporary hits with Cher, Bowie came across as estranged, permanently distracted, standing at a remove from humanity, as if he was an extraterrestrial who had learned to speak English by watching television.

TV, with its rituals and its rhythms, was meant to reassure, to serve as the commons for millions of atomized people, but Bowie’s appearances upset the timing. Bowie, whether he wanted to or no, couldn’t fit properly into the frame, and his freakish appearance, the way he seemed tuned to a different key than everyone else on the screen, in turn distorted the “normal” TV celebrities. His oddness brought out their falseness. He made Cher inexplicable, he made Dinah Shore seem like a malevolent cartoon. Bowie broke the contract of celebrity, which is that famous, beautiful people exist in bright excess purely for our enjoyment. He was a celebrity who made no sense; he seemed like a visitation. Television was relieved when he finally left it alone."
posted by The Whelk at 12:43 PM on January 17, 2012 [32 favorites]


its just a charity record

Even so, there are standards. And it came on the heels of Do They Know It's Christmas?, possibly the best charity record ever.

(And which incidentally is cruelly undervalued in the US as a generic "Christmas song". To me as a Brit it has a big emotional and political resonance: Geldof and Ure taking action when the Thatcher government wouldn't, and dragging the entire UK music industry along with them.)

Dancing In The Streets wasn't just crap; it came across as very insincere.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mild derail, but I gotta.

Schmod: "...two college guys poorly dancing along to that song while galloping throughout Colonial Williamsburg holds a special place in my heart, if only because it manages to perfectly capture the utter despair that comes with living in Williamsburg (for instance, the fact that a Starship soundtrack is somehow a vast improvement)."

OH MY GOD YES. "The Town Where Fun Goes to Die" is not an inapt label for The Burg.

This "fun vacuum" does have an upside. Even the mildest bit of collegiate prankery in that town creates a shitstorm, because they're so unused to that sort of thing. Drunken assholes hooting and barfing, fine; a goofus running for student government president as a member of the Monarchist Party, crisis. Getting a big red-faced reaction makes moronic stunts so much more satisfying.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 12:45 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing is, too, that my dad - who was 18 in 1969 - bought up all these comeback albums. Even though they were really, really terrible. I mean, I used to be a huge Duran Duran fan, but when the shockingly bad Notorious was released, I tuned right out. And yet, when the same guy who wrote "Here Comes the Sun" did a cover "Got My Mind Set On You," and the same trio who brought us "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" released "American Dream", the guy who did "Subterranean Homesick Blues" brought out "Has Anybody Seen My Love?" and the same guy who composed "Glad" wrote a song specifically for Michelob, my dad was all over it. I didn't get it.

And yes, I understand Duran Duran was probably not the same cultural landmark of music that George Harrison, CSNY, Bob Dylan and Steve Winwood were. But to me, that's what made the 80s releases all the more repugnant. I almost felt sorry for my dad, shelling out money to artists well past their prime who were clearly cashing in on the Boomer nostalgia bandwagon. He listened to each new release for like, a month tops, before letting them languish in the basement.

Maybe there was some wishful thinking there, despite having heard the stuff on the radio before his purchases, that somewhere on these releases there'd be one or two pieces of true gold. That, I can certainly understand. I mean, I did buy Notorious after seeing the video for the eponymous track on MTV. I'd just be very suspicious of a whole crop of musicians from my youth suddenly rising from the musical cemetary en masse, I guess.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:46 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


And it came on the heels of Do They Know It's Christmas?

It also came on the heels of the smuggest that is We Are the World, so.
posted by Grangousier at 12:48 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Mick is doing a great parody of Mick Jagger there.

He'd had a lot of practice by then, alors.
posted by jfuller at 12:49 PM on January 17, 2012


I've been reading this Bowie blog for a long time now. I check every day for an update. It contains some of the best music writing I've seen this century (or any other). I thought I knew Bowie's records backwards, but now I'm learning new things. I think the relatively unmined territory of 80s and 90s Bowie will see the blog become even more fascinating.
posted by cincinnatus c at 12:49 PM on January 17, 2012


So that's what Drive-In Saturday is about? Wow.
posted by The Whelk at 12:56 PM on January 17, 2012


Excellent post. A couple days ago after re-watching a couple of the Star Wars prequels (with Rifftrax) my wife observed that the things that suck so very bady about the Star Wars prequels are also present in the earlier Star Wars films, but, at least in our opinion, the assorted missteps don't overwhelm the earlier films. It reminded me of the musicians who had done good work in the 60's and 70's churning out absolute shit in the 80's, but I couldn't think of think of any specific examples. Now, thanks to this thread I remember them all too clearly.

Oh, and from the comments on the entry for Modern Love - the Modern Love flowchart.
posted by gamera at 12:58 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


His oddness brought out their falseness.

He may well have done that, but it seems pretty clear that the falseness was already brimming at the surface just waiting to be brought out. There's nothing about 1970s television variety shows and music specials and Cher and Dinah Shore that wasn't already inherently false. And Bowie didn't look that "freakish" or "odd" in this -- any more than Grandpa Bing did. Maybe less so.
posted by blucevalo at 12:58 PM on January 17, 2012


for me, the funny thing is that for a song about togetherness and everyone in the world being happy, the only two people on the otherwise deserted set in the video are jagger and bowie.
posted by cupcake1337 at 1:02 PM on January 17, 2012


I wonder if the 90s will hold up the Bowie Album Rule, The More Hair On His Head The Better The Overall Album.
posted by The Whelk at 1:02 PM on January 17, 2012


they literally just called it the 'Gayest video ever made'

Surely it's surpassed by the Pet Shop Boys' Village People cover "Go West," which approaches Peak Gay.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:09 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh God the video for "Go West" was STALKING ME in Italy in 02. Every. Single. Bar. Gah.
posted by The Whelk at 1:10 PM on January 17, 2012


It's still not as bad as Lady Gaga.
posted by jonmc at 1:11 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also Peak Gay? May I direct you to Rammstein's "Mann Gegen Mann" (NSFW)
posted by The Whelk at 1:13 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like it.
posted by John Cohen at 1:13 PM on January 17, 2012


The Jagger/Bowie cover, that is.
posted by John Cohen at 1:14 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This really doesn't seem that much worse than everything else about the 80s to me.

Private Dancer is one of my personal demon, nightmare, daymare earworms, btw. Along with Bawitdaba, it will certainly follow me to hell.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 1:15 PM on January 17, 2012


Two words: Shit Sandwich
posted by punkfloyd at 1:15 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had never noticed the Starman/Over the Rainbow connection before

"“Starman” is also a pop song about pop music. Bowie’s alien appears only as a voice on the radio (he’s basically a cosmic DJ), whispering secrets to a teenager listening late at night—it’s how pop music can instantly create secret societies, break up the tedium of your life, liberate you from your parents. And “Starman” the track seems fused from a pile of old records. The octave-leap opening of the chorus is a lift from “Over the Rainbow” (so much that Bowie cheekily merged the two songs during a ’72 concert at the Rainbow, linked to above), the guitar-keyboard hook linking the verse to the chorus is taken from the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” or The Five Americans’ “Western Union” (Nicholas Pegg suggests Blue Mink’s “Melting Pot”), while the long “LA-la-la-la-LA” outro is pure T. Rex, particularly “Hot Love.” It’s a greatest-hits compilation in a four-minute song."
posted by The Whelk at 1:17 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


And then I remember that the worst thing in the history of audio, hands down, is the Grateful Dead cover of Dancing In The Street on Terrapin Station.

well, the live versions had lots of guitar playing ... but there was a time before disco when they did the song differently (the jam starts at 2.30 for those who don't want to hear the vocals, and perhaps you don't - around 5.00 or so they go into an interesting embryonic eyes of the world)
posted by pyramid termite at 1:24 PM on January 17, 2012


Surely it's surpassed by the Pet Shop Boys' Village People cover "Go West," which approaches Peak Gay.

True story -- the first time I heard that song was at an industrial night at a gay club in DC and I didn't have a clue that it was a gay anthem. And I loved it in a completely non-ironic and non camp way.
posted by empath at 1:30 PM on January 17, 2012


I saw the only time they did the song and I like it. Oooh, oooh; I'm not MeFi cool. Tragedy.
posted by ambient2 at 1:45 PM on January 17, 2012




Still not the worst song produced by a boomer rock band in the 80s

I just KNEW it was going to be Starship. Yeeechhh!

And yet, I just LOVE '80s music and I had the bestest time ever being 22 in San Francisco in 1985.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:58 PM on January 17, 2012


Tragedy

Have the Bee Gees been reappraised as cool yet? Tragedy's a great song.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:01 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would like to point out that this Jagger-Bowie abomination was released a mere nine months before Master of Puppets. It was like these two aging fossil rockers had a demon child that killed them both and saved the world.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:03 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


And then we all had to be rescued from Metallica...
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:06 PM on January 17, 2012


Have the Bee Gees been reappraised as cool yet?

Yea, they were great. The huge fame of Saturday Night Fever and its iconic association with disco was really unfortunate for them.
posted by slkinsey at 2:11 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also want to nth how great this Bowie blog is. I immediately went to my favorite song of his, and literally shout-laughed at
Bowie immediately moved to recording two tracks of backing vocals with Visconti (hence the faint Brooklyn accent you hear on “I remember” and “wall”)
because I swear I have pointed out this accent to others when this song is playing, and was starting to think I was crazy for being the only person to hear it. Vindicated by Visconti!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:12 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, taking potshots at would-be "heavies" like Sugar Ray, Smashmouth, Starship, etc. is pretty low, but I still do it just about every day.
posted by porn in the woods at 2:14 PM on January 17, 2012


I will probably be assimilated into that blog like someone who really kind of wants to be a Borg, but I do have to say that the writer should consider the possibility that Bowie is really just taking the piss throughout the entire video. (And I'm not just saying that to defend Bowie, as this was done during my least favorite period of his.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:16 PM on January 17, 2012


Man, taking potshots at would-be "heavies" like Sugar Ray, Smashmouth, Starship, etc. is pretty low, but I still do it just about every day.

Oh, I know. Sort of shooting fish in a barrel to pour scorn and ridicule upon them. This I can explain - a) there are as yet undiscovered hermit caves in the Himalayas where Sugar Ray's "Fly" was being played in 1997, and b) all the truly terrible acts of the mid to late 90s seemed to dominate the airwaves, but some gem like Fastball's "The Way" was like, a blip on the playlist, and you never heard from those guys again.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:18 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every time I hear the horrible synthesized intro to "We Built This City" and the drums come in, I imagine a toxic spill at the local sewer. Poop is flooding a town, but Grace Slick and the gang are staying dry by floating on turds worthy of the Jolly Green Giant, taking out everything in their path while rocking their garbage music.

And how about that single's fucked-up cover art?
posted by porn in the woods at 2:25 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Along with Bawitdaba, it will certainly follow me to hell

Thanks for that.

Oh God get it out get it out get it out
posted by cereselle at 2:33 PM on January 17, 2012


And how about that single's fucked-up cover art?

Oh, man, that is as 80s as Robin Hood: Men in Tights is 90s.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:37 PM on January 17, 2012


Perhaps this is a good time to remind everyone of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band starring the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton.
posted by The World Famous at 2:38 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Starship was an exceedingly strange band, and not in a good way. I needed a grappling hook and crampons to climb my way out of the wikihole I fell into trying to follow the permutations they've taken since We Built This City.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:38 PM on January 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whenever the Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl" comes up in conversation, someone always mentions the bit that goes "And someone played a Beach Boys song on the jukebox; it was California Dreamin', so we started screamin' 'on such a winter's day'" and how, duh, that was the Mamas and the Papas, not the Beach Boys.

Yeah, well.

That load of desperate '60s revival cum '80s uberschlock came out two years before Punk Rock Girl. You'll notice that in the Punk Rock Girl video, when that line is sung, one of the Milkmen appears bored in an overcoat.

Exactly.

(Also, notice that the Beach Boys video contains a Mama and a Papa and probably has more than a little something to do with Wilson Phillips.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:44 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Peak Gay? Relax.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:55 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


there were worse revivals of the 60s in the 80s - like this pointless remake
posted by pyramid termite at 3:08 PM on January 17, 2012


Okay, I'll do this.

This happened in 1985. I was 26 years old, and just about the most cynical, disillusioned, eighties-music-hating ex-punk in existence. You want to know how cynical and above it all I was? I was offered tickets to Live Aid and I turned them down.

rickoutoftheyoungones>Yeah. That's right, kids. I turned Live Aid down! /rickoutoftheyoungones>

And yet.

My clear memory of this video is that everyone loved it. Including me. Yes, they were dressed preposterously. Hell, it was the mid eighties, are you really going to knock 'em for that? Yes, the video looked like it was knocked up in six hours for thrupence ha'penny. Because it was. Because they had to get these two megastars together when their crazy timetables coincided and knock something out just like that. So they had 'em farting about in docklands or wherever it was and just went with that. And it was cheap, dumb, doomed-to-be-dated fun, and we appreciated that that's pretty much all they could do for Live Aid, given the crazy constraints of that mad time and event. And most of us just pointed and laughed and went with it. Even some of the big boys just checked their egos, dropped what they were doing and mucked in. It worked. At the time.

But enjoy your context-free sneering, youngsters. I can't really hold that against you. After all, I am, as I say, an ex-punk.
posted by Decani at 3:10 PM on January 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Peak Gay? Relax.

When some of my classmates expressed surprise that Holly Johnson was gay, I remembered seeing this "uncensored" version of the video on television late one night, and honestly could not believe how it escaped them.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:11 PM on January 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


hey, you know we forgot one very important link:

the original by martha reeves and the vandellas
posted by pyramid termite at 3:20 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have developed a terrible weakness when it comes to ear worms. I think some med I'm taking has made me even more susceptible to catchy hooks. So I haven't clicked a single link in this thread and yet....and yet...someone said Starship and that's all it took. I now am down the rabbit hole with Marconi and his Mambo/Mamba until another more horrible song comes along. I may have to go down to CVS just to pick up something less awful. Otherwise I'm stuck until my son's dentist appointment tomorrow afternoon. I'm almost guaranteed of some Steve Winwood then.
posted by Biblio at 3:25 PM on January 17, 2012


If you think it all looks horribly dated and silly, just wait about ten years when it will all be the height of fashion again (see: the seventies currently).

Are you kidding? We're already way into 80's fashion revival and the 90's revival is just around the corner. And unlike the 70's, the current revival does nothing to justify the era's worst excesses.
posted by Edgewise at 3:28 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


My clear memory of this video is that everyone loved it. Including me.

OK, I was a bit younger at the time (half that age, to be precise) and I have strong recollections of me and my friends laughing our asses off. Maybe it's a generational thing.
posted by Edgewise at 3:31 PM on January 17, 2012


The '90s fashion revival seems to have already started in my neck of the woods...my wife and I have seen college-age kids out in about in raver-inspired threads, which makes me feel really old because that was the first fashion trend that made me think "Those kids look like idiots" the first time around.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:32 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes. I attended a 1999/2000-themed party last summer. There were a lot of people in their early 20s who asked why I wasn't in costume. "Because I've owned this shirt since '98," I said.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:37 PM on January 17, 2012


> I just KNEW it was going to be Starship. Yeeechhh!

Lead writer credit for that one to Bernie Taupin, be it noted.
posted by jfuller at 3:44 PM on January 17, 2012


I had an idea for a cover band that would unfailingly make millions of dollars working the OC area alone. The repertoire would consist entirely of Smash Mouth, Sugar Ray, and Sublime, and the band would be called Shit Sandwich.
posted by anazgnos at 3:50 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


As far as 80's revivals go, am I the only one who sees the revival as more or less permanent? As far as I can tell, it seems like the 80's just kept on going on repeat (with a brief break sometime in the 90's). It seems like 80's "revival" parties, recycled tunes on top 40 radio, etc., have been going on most of my adult life.
posted by treepour at 3:56 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


There were bars with '80s nights going as early as my second year of university ('93-'94).
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:00 PM on January 17, 2012


There's some awkward edits in the video, but the best is when, halfway through singing, Mick just you know, *stops* and starts drinking a glass of water.
posted by alex_skazat at 4:02 PM on January 17, 2012


There were bars with '80s nights going as early as my second year of university ('93-'94).

I remember this, too, which struck me as strange, because I remember wondering, in the 80s, what we were going to be nostalgic about in the 90s if the 80s was all about the 60s.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:02 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ahh, I remember dancing to this video at the UC Theatre in Berkeley before a handful of showings of the Rocky Horror Picture Show in the early '90s. Said dancing may or may not have been ironic...
posted by JT at 4:15 PM on January 17, 2012


ladies and gentlemen, presenting peter gabriel and the vandellas
posted by pyramid termite at 4:25 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Okay, I know this isn't the point of the article but I really like Robbie Robertson's first solo album. It's a little dated, but it holds up better than pretty much everything it's lumped together with there.
posted by Dismantled King at 4:35 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those who dig the Bowiesongs blog would probably also like Alan Pollack's "Notes On" Beatles song musicology.
posted by jetsetsc at 4:36 PM on January 17, 2012


I just Built This City on rock n roll just for you guys.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:45 PM on January 17, 2012


We're going to take a bite, then two more courtesy bites, then slide it away and change the topic of conversation.
posted by The Whelk at 5:56 PM on January 17, 2012


My clear memory of this video is that everyone loved it. Including me.

OK, I was a bit younger at the time (half that age, to be precise) and I have strong recollections of me and my friends laughing our asses off. Maybe it's a generational thing.


Well at 17, I was just about in between you two, and I remember being horribly embarrassed for/by Bowie and Mick in this video. They took the coolness with which I had heretofor anointed them and shed it like snakeskins.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:02 PM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


they literally just called it the "Gayest video ever made"

Sorry, no. Baltimora's Tarzan Boy has that credit for life.
posted by dantsea at 6:03 PM on January 17, 2012


There were bars with '80s nights going as early as my second year of university ('93-'94).

Back in the early-to-mid-90s we called clubs that played 80s music "cougar bars".
posted by KokuRyu at 6:07 PM on January 17, 2012


I never even considered that Mefi needed a negative button....until now...
posted by Increase at 6:23 PM on January 17, 2012


there were worse revivals of the 60s in the 80s - like this pointless remake

I like the Stray Cats cover of "You Can't Hurry Love."

And the Bangles remake of "Haze Shade of Winter."
posted by kirkaracha at 9:00 PM on January 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't quite understand the depths of hatred for the Starship song. Lord knows it's not great - listening to it again, the song sounds like something Thomas Dolby would have quite understandably left off The Golden Age of Wireless, albeit with much clunkier instrumentation and production - but there have to be much worse records from that time (which I think of as the Casey Kasem's American Top Ten Era), which we have simply managed to suppress the memories of.

The best time to watch Casey Kasem's American Top Ten was half-past three in the morning. Given sufficient cannabis, it made perfect, if horrific, sense.
posted by Grangousier at 2:29 AM on January 18, 2012


Wasn't the original idea for that Bowie/Jagger collaboration to have them both on stage at Live Aid, one in London and the other in the US, doing that song transatlantically, only to be defeated by sattelite transmission lags? Because that would've been amazing.

I liked it at the time, but then I was ten/eleven when Live Aid hit and knew nothing of the history.

Same with Starship and we build this city. On rock 'n roll even.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:34 AM on January 18, 2012


I don't quite understand the depths of hatred for the Starship song.

Speaking only for myself, it's the fact that Jefferson Airplane was a great and groundbreaking band. Starship was objectively very bad, and in comparison to its original versions, was horribly bad. Also, that song got enormous airplay, and I was working in a place where they kept the radio on, so I had to hear it many times every day. Every time reminded me that the remnants of Airplane were so much less than the thing they had been part of.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:40 AM on January 18, 2012


More like "We Bilked This City (Of Rock & Roll)"
posted by porn in the woods at 5:53 AM on January 18, 2012


"Jane" and "Find Your Way Back"1 are good Jefferson Starship songs.2
1 Even though it sounds like Boston.
2 I didn't say they were good videos.

posted by kirkaracha at 6:58 AM on January 18, 2012


Watch the video with no sound--desperation overload. Sometimes I wonder how we ever thought anything in the 80s was cool. (/80s child)
posted by cass at 7:07 AM on January 18, 2012


It's certainly fair to say that the 1980s was a good time to be a hairspray manufacturer.
posted by Grangousier at 7:13 AM on January 18, 2012


Sometimes I wonder how we ever thought anything in the 80s was cool.

You know, I was born in 74, and grew up in the 80s, and for a long time it was an article of faith for me that nothing good was created in the 80s. But that's horseshit. As my 30s roll on, I keep catching myself discovering totally fucking awesome things that were created in the 80s: the Coen brothers were getting warmed up in the 80s. Woody Allen had a hell of a roll. The Clash didn't do their best stuff in the 80s (although London Calling was released in the US in 80), but they still did great work. R.E.M. went through two great creative cycles in the 80s. Carpenter's The Thing came out in 82! Mainstream comics basically grew up in the 80s. Hell, more directly relevant to this post, Bowie wasn't exactly idle in the 80s (although yeah, I agree there wasn't much of note from Jagger). The Police (although, yeah, then Sting's solo career)! Talking Heads! WRATH OF KHAN, MOTHERFUCKER!

There was a lot of crap produced in the 80s, yeah, but also plenty of awesome stuff.
posted by COBRA! at 7:19 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like the Stray Cats cover of "You Can't Hurry Love."

But did you like the Phil Collins cover?

Ow ow ow.
posted by cereselle at 7:32 AM on January 18, 2012


I think the thing about the 80s is that while there was of course a lot of great stuff being produced, as there is every decade, the worst stuff from the '80s is worse than the worst stuff from any other decade.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:36 AM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


the worst stuff from the '80s is worse than the worst stuff from any other decade.

The 1970s proudly present the worst thing in the history of the universe.
posted by The World Famous at 11:31 AM on January 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Weirdly homophobic streak in this thread.
posted by yoink at 11:36 AM on January 18, 2012


The 1970s proudly present the worst thing in the history of the universe.

oh. my. god.

to think that i've lived until 2012 without having to suffer through that awful experience - i'm going to memail you my EYEBALLS, motherfucker

and johnny winter - WHAT THE HELL IS JOHNNY WINTER DOING THERE????
posted by pyramid termite at 12:52 PM on January 18, 2012


Weirdly homophobic streak in this thread.

How do you figure? The songs that people are calling 'gay' were actually songs written by gay people for gay audiences.
posted by empath at 12:56 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


The 1970s proudly present the worst thing in the history of the universe.

Frankie Howerd looks somewhat confused there, and frankly who can blame him.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:10 PM on January 18, 2012


Ha!!! this is pretty good.
posted by stormpooper at 1:21 PM on January 18, 2012


You know, I was born in 74, and grew up in the 80s, and for a long time it was an article of faith for me that nothing good was created in the 80s.

Interestingly, a friend of mine and I decided to make a graph of musical quality since 1950. We drew several lines, but the two most important metrics (to us) were "pop music" and "innovation." Although I formerly thought I would score the 80's low on both counts, in the end, it actually did very well for innovation. There was a lot of stuff happening off the mainstream that was quite exciting and fresh, like hip hop and punk. A lot of that finally hit the mainstream in the 90's, which is why pop music in the 90's was so much better than the 80's. So I guess I'm agreeing with you that there are some hidden gems in the 80's, despite the fact that I still pretty much despise the vast majority of that era's pop.
posted by Edgewise at 1:47 PM on January 18, 2012


And let's not forget that the Pixies started in the 80's, and there hasn't been a better rock band since.
posted by Edgewise at 1:47 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


There was a ton of amazing music in the 80s. It is ridiculous to pretend otherwise.
posted by The World Famous at 2:03 PM on January 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


With all the mentions of Urge Overkill, I'm surprised nobody's mentioned The Kids Are Insane with its Vandella-style shoutout to a list of American cities (and a token mention of Toronto).
posted by jonp72 at 7:09 PM on January 18, 2012


I know this was released in '78, but I always associate Van Halen's cover of You Really Got Me with the 80s. Maybe because it was played at my local roller rink at least once a night. To me, this is a rare example of a cover improving the original. A cover making a song better is usually the case when the original isn't that great to begin with, but I also love the Kinks' version.

Some day, I'm going to make a list of good covers that improved good songs. I'm sure it'll be a remarkably short list, but still.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:37 PM on January 18, 2012


Some day, I'm going to make a list of good covers that improved good songs. I'm sure it'll be a remarkably short list, but still.

these folks came up with fourteen. And still managed to leave off Jimi Hendrix's version of "All Along The Watchtower."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 PM on January 18, 2012


these folks came up with fourteen. And still managed to leave off Jimi Hendrix's version of "All Along The Watchtower."

Apart from that woeful exclusion, I can't say I agree with many of these (the Lady Marmalade cover done for the Moulin Rouge soundtrack was in no way an improvement), but a lot of these are exactly the songs I had in mind. That's not a bad list.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:54 PM on January 18, 2012


Hmm. My memory of the "Watchtower" story is that Dylan wrote the song of course, but Jimi managed to release it first. In this sort of situation, whose version is the cover?

Edit: No, I am wrong. Jimi's version followed the John Wesley Harding release by months. But Jimi had heard a tape before Dylan's album was released, so that's how I got the idea.
posted by zomg at 8:10 PM on January 18, 2012


All I know about the two versions is that legend has it that when Dylan heard Hendrix's version, his reaction was something like: "oh, okay, THAT'S what it was supposed to sound like."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 PM on January 18, 2012


I have strong recollections of me and my friends laughing our asses off. Maybe it's a generational thing.
posted by Edgewise at 11:31 PM on January 17


Oh, we did too. But with them more than at them. It seemed obvious then and obvious re-watching it now that they were gleefully sending themselves up, no? It seemed churlish to pretend otherwise.
posted by Decani at 3:19 AM on January 19, 2012


How do you figure? The songs that people are calling 'gay' were actually songs written by gay people for gay audiences.

Yes, but that whole discussion seems part of a general endorsement of the argument in the linked article that part of what qualifies this video as so egregiously horrible is that it's so "gay."

On another note, in re "fogie rock"--Jagger was, what, 42 years old when he made this? Bowie wasn't even 40. By way of comparison:

Bjork: 46
Jeff Tweedy: 44
Johnny Marr: 48
Neko Case: 41
Tom Waits: 62(!)

I can imagine the warm reception a dismissal of Bjork as a "fogie" would receive on Metafilter. And heck, what would this make Tom Waits? "Senile dementia rock"?
posted by yoink at 8:42 AM on January 19, 2012


I'm not sure Tom Waits quite fits in with an example of the kind of corporate pop being decried in the article in question; yeah, that was kind of your point, but it's more than just his age making him an outlier.

What I mean is: I think everyone already knows that Tom Waits wouldn't be doing the kind of lukewarm-cover-version-by-an-aging-popstar kind of thing anyway -- at least, he wouldn't do so without throwing in harpsichords, sample track loops from Charles Mingus studio outtakes, a tin fluglehorn and a couple of trained seals or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


And now that I've speculated on that Tom Waits instrumentation, I really really wanna hear it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:00 AM on January 19, 2012


a general endorsement of the argument in the linked article that part of what qualifies this video as so egregiously horrible is that it's so "gay."

That's a total bad-faith misstatement of what the article "argues". Bowie and Jagger had embraced gay imagery and culture much more extensively earlier in their career, but the 80s were a time when they were all trying to butch up their images in various ways (ditto Lou Reed). So it's in that context that the gayness of this video is funny, odd and notable, and that is what a single footnote at the bottom of the article points out.
posted by anazgnos at 10:39 AM on January 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can imagine the warm reception a dismissal of Bjork as a "fogie" would receive on Metafilter. And heck, what would this make Tom Waits? "Senile dementia rock"?

The ages of the musicians alone is quite obviously not at all what I meant by Fogie Rock, but I'll clarify:

Björk has been continuously recording since the 80s, with little pause. Furthermore, she's been able to keep her sound fresh. Fogie Rock clearly refers to musicians who dropped off the map for decades, only to return to cash in on some generational nostalgia trip, belching forth piss-weak facsimiles of what their music once was.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:43 PM on January 19, 2012


Fogie Rock clearly refers to musicians who dropped off the map for decades

Some Girls, Emotional Rescue, Tattoo You and She's The Boss had all been produced in the last decade when this recording came out. So your definition fails even more spectacularly by these criteria. Neither Bowie nor Jagger had paused in their careers at this point.
posted by yoink at 9:39 PM on January 19, 2012


Oh, and I forgot Undercover--but then it's probably best to. Some Girls, though, was a great album, and that was less than a decade old when "Dancing" came out. Sure, we know now that The Stones had nothing more of interest left to say, but that wasn't actually clear in the mid-80s. And Bowie was probably at the peak of his fame, with about seven albums released in the previous decade.
posted by yoink at 7:47 AM on January 20, 2012


The ultimate cover/original confusion for me is Shipbuilding - Elvis Costello co-wrote it for Robert Wyatt, who released it as a single. 1 2 Costello later recorded it. 1 2 Personally I think the Wyatt version is the original and superior version (too much trumpet noodling on Costello's version and the Wyatt record is as close to perfection as an arrangement gets), but there are those who disagree.
posted by Grangousier at 10:15 AM on January 20, 2012


Some Girls, Emotional Rescue, Tattoo You and She's The Boss had all been produced in the last decade when this recording came out. So your definition fails even more spectacularly by these criteria. Neither Bowie nor Jagger had paused in their careers at this point.

Except I wasn't talking about Bowie and Jagger. How about you scroll on up and read the bands I was discussing?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:32 PM on January 20, 2012


Except I wasn't talking about Bowie and Jagger. How about you scroll on up and read the bands I was discussing?

Er, what? This thread is about Bowie and Jagger. You used the term "fogie rock" in your very first post in this thread--a post that refers to being baffled "at the time" of the phenomenon (a time which can only mean the time referenced in the FPP--i.e., the time of Bowie and Jagger).

If you were secretly thinking of some utterly unrelated period I'm afraid there's really no way I could have gleaned that from what you wrote.

Also, when you took issue with my post about Jagger's and Bowie's ages making the term "fogie rock" rather inapropos, you didn't, at that stage, suggest that you hadn't been referring to Jagger and Bowie, you simply said that it wasn't age that counted but how long it was since you'd last released an album. Again, that seems like a pretty bizarre response if Jagger and Bowie weren't the subject of the conversation at all.
posted by yoink at 4:42 PM on January 20, 2012


Er, what? This thread is about Bowie and Jagger. You used the term "fogie rock" in your very first post in this thread--a post that refers to being baffled "at the time" of the phenomenon (a time which can only mean the time referenced in the FPP--i.e., the time of Bowie and Jagger).

If you were secretly thinking of some utterly unrelated period I'm afraid there's really no way I could have gleaned that from what you wrote.


Here, let me help.

And as it says in the text of the FPP, there were a lot of musicians rising from the dead at the time of this Dancing in the Streets phenom. This is what I was calling Fogie Rock, and then discussed the bands I believed fell under this category in greater detail later on.

For the record, I love Bowie, and have mixed feelings about Mick (kind of hard for me to forgive Brown Sugar, but he apparently inspired David Johansen).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:46 PM on January 20, 2012


Well, A) that still makes no sense of your first response to me and B) "at the time of this Dancing in the Streets phenom" Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Steve Winwood and the various artists of CSN&Y had all been continuously releasing albums since the beginnings of their careers. So none of them qualified as "fogie rock" under your revised definition either.
posted by yoink at 5:34 PM on January 20, 2012


A) that still makes no sense of your first response to me

Don't see how. It's exactly what I had said: "musicians who dropped off the map for decades, only to return to cash in on some generational nostalgia trip, belching forth piss-weak facsimiles of what their music once was," i.e., the artists referred to in the FPP text. This was my response to you having a misunderstanding about my first comment in this thread, and I guess not reading the elaboration further down the thread.

B) "at the time of this Dancing in the Streets phenom" Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Steve Winwood and the various artists of CSN&Y had all been continuously releasing albums since the beginnings of their careers.

Only it doesn't matter if they were continuously recording; I'm saying they "dropped off the map", i.e., faded into the background of pop music, which is what happened, until they were suddenly all over the radio in the midst of late-80s nostalgia for the 60s.

I really, sincerely hope this clears the matter up for you. If you're still confused, you're welcome to shoot me a message. I love talking about music trends, and all their configurations. I just don't want this thread becoming the Yoink & MStPT Show (hey, you got top billing!) over some needling over data points, where we both end up repeating ourselves a lot.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:25 PM on January 20, 2012


If you're over 30, you're an old fogie in rock music.
posted by empath at 8:56 PM on January 20, 2012


It really is interesting how the idea of what constitutes an over-the-hill, aging rocker has changed as rock and roll itself has aged. In 1980, rock and roll itself wasn't even 30 years old. Its evolution in those 30 years was ridiculously fast-paced.

Compare 80s albums - punk, metal, new wave, or really any genre - to what was happening 10 and 20 years earlier and the difference is huge. Then compare what was happening - not just in the top 40 - in 1990 with what's happening now. The changes are incremental at best.

No matter what sort of music you dig in 2012, there's something from the late 80s to tie it to pretty closely.

So if Fugazi comes out with a new album (hope, hope), after a decade since the last one and more than 30 years since Minor Threat started, it's not going to be received in the same way as a new album in 1985 from an artist whose first stuff came out in 1955 and who hadn't released anything at all since 1975. Which is not to say that artists over 30 aren't treated as old fogies in rock music. But they are generally received in a different light than they would have been 30 years ago.

If you're over 30, you're an old fogie in rock music.

I agree, sort of. If you're just trying to break as a rock star, 30 is probably the outer limit, at least in terms of what you admit your age actually is. A really fit 38 year old who lies about his or her age can probably get away with it. But youth is one of the big products sold by rock and roll, so at least the appearance of youth is important.

On the other hand, a good thick head of hair and decent physique at 40 can make up for a lot of the old fogie stuff. At a certain point, though, your body and face start to show age in ways that being in good shape and well-lit can't really cover. Then, yeah, the illusion of youth is probably done.

I figure a big break into the mainstream for a musician/performer probably takes, on average, about 10 years of solid, full-time work, either by the performer or at least by his or her production/marketing team. And, based on that, I'd estimate that 30 is about as old as you can start that 10-year process and have it actually pan out, assuming you can stay fit and pretty that whole time. And that's really an outside chance - making it big at 40 is not unheard-of, but it's extremely rare.
posted by The World Famous at 9:10 PM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


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