Bowiemas as a season of meditation and insight
January 5, 2018 9:49 PM   Subscribe

First off, HBO will show on Bowiemas, Jan 8, David Bowie: The Last Five Years. A companion piece to 2013's David Bowie: Five Years, an exercise in polar opposites. Also, Duncan Jones (Director of Moon), Bowie's son, announced a book club based on Bowie's personal list of of his favorite books [2013]. Duncan has chosen something light to start.

I collected a bunch of long-form Bowie interviews of various sorts! I'd never encountered Bowie at this length before this post, and welcome to my rabbit hole. I've pulled the first interview from every year across his career I've found that is long enough to be more than a GMA interview. It's a lot of Bowie. Probably more than any mere mortal is capable of consumption, but I'm fully ready to welcome the Advent of his Arrival on this world. (Also, EVERY SINGLE ONE of these interviews has felt worthwhile for me to watch. I would not link them otherwise. My summaries are, at best, minimal. Bowie is a gem generator, and you watch him and magic happens.) [Ed. note: that previous parenthetical was an Ed. note. Apologies.]

1974 - The Dick Cavett Show - 32m: A full Cavett show which gives an interesting cultural context for Bowie at the time, also in which is documented how much cocaine a person can do. *live musical performance
1977 - interview for Dutch TV - 25m: OMG THEY CAN DO SO MUCH MORE COKE!
1979 - Capital Radio Interview - 56m: David Bowie graciously and wonderfully takes on-air questions from UK callers (!), and selects some songs (some of which are heard), and also gets a bit deep during longer interview segments. [Ed. note: coke may be involved, but it's not obviously excessive as in the past] [Ed. note: I think probably no coke was involved.]
1980 - Post Elephant Man interview for radio - 33m: Bowie decides to collaborate with an interviewer gives the listeners one of the best interviews of this entire lot
1983 - MusikExpress Sounds interview - 31m: Bowie talks music and then REALLY talks film.
1987 - Uncut interview (unknown source) - 21m: 80's hair! Also, worthwhile conversation about the Let's Dance album, also "is a cigarette going to break up continuity?"
1990 - TV AM - 19m: Compiled from across several mornings, interviewed after Live Aid, reflecting on Iggy Pop and other moments earlier in his career. And talking about shutting the door on his earlier material.
1992 - Tin Machine disbandment interview - 33m: reflections on music and performance and the difficulty of capturing the magic
1993 - Interview (unknown Norwegian source) - 25m: Discussion about music that goes places you might not expect.
1995 - MTV, Kurt Loder - 11m: Trent & David were working and touring together. Trent looks so young! Bonus Video -- the NIN - Bowie handoff known as Dissonance that is talked about during this interview [45m] Oh jeebus god i wish i had seen this tour omg honestly i've dreamed of bands playing together like this holy shit if you are a music lover who clicks on one link...OMG Hurt
1996 - Dutch televison - 33m: SIGN LANGUAGE CONCERT INTERPRETERS REPRESET!!! Bowie examines his onstage personae and how he integrated. "He's studying philosophy at the moment." "YES" [GO FROM THERE]
1997 - interview by Marc Scarpa - 24m: A general career assessment at this point in time, illuminating Bowie's world and mindset 20 years ago.
1998 - Charlie Rose - 58m Wide-ranging interview, leisurely conversation. Creative inspiration across the years is the broad focus.
1999 - raw ZDTV interview footage - 32m Bowie chatting very casually about the internet.
2002 - Michael Parkinson - 29m also with Tom Hanks. Kind of fluffy but charming and fun. *live musical performance
2003 - RadioEinz - 29m Bowie gets his answers summarized and translated into German. Largely about the Reality album.

My searches didn't encounter much past this point. I'd welcome links to longer interviews after 2003. He remained fascinating, even spellbinding, until the very weekend of his death.

*OH - Trigger Warning -- Bowie smokes basically constantly across all these interviews. Yet he died of liver cancer. Go fig!
posted by hippybear (23 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this! Been pondering how to observe Bowiemas next week... definitely will need to stock up on milk and red peppers, whatever I do.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 10:33 PM on January 5

Saw the bit about the book club last week on my Twitter feed and am seriously considering being a part of that. I haven't read any fiction in yonks.

Thanks for this list, hippybear! There's a couple of interviews here that I've missed!

Bonus for Bowiemas: Interview/excerpt of his performance in The Elephant Man for the BBC program Friday Night/Saturday Morning, ca. September, 1980. He is interviewed by Sir Tim Rice first, then filmed snippets of the play follow. I wonder if the whole play wasn't filmed, but it probably wasn't, which is just so... well, saddening.
posted by droplet at 11:12 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]

OH - Trigger Warning -- Bowie smokes basically constantly across all these interviews. Yet he died of liver cancer. Go fig!

I'd better knock off the milk and red peppers
posted by thelonius at 12:52 AM on January 6 [6 favorites]

Oh jeebus god i wish i had seen this tour omg honestly i've dreamed of bands playing together like this holy shit if you are a music lover who clicks on one link...OMG Hurt

The best thing I ever fucking did was tell my parents, "Look, either you can let me go to Austin to see Nails and Bowie and get phone calls and know where I am or I am freaking sneaking out and going anyway and will deal with the fallout when I get back." I was 16. It was the best concert of my life, mostly because it was so incredibly once-in-a-lifetime. The whole transition of Nails-to-Nails with Bowie-to Bowie's band with Trent-to Bowie and his band (a fantastic band, too) without a pause was so freaking great.

The sad fact is that half the audience left after NIN went offstage because David Bowie was old people music or something, but that just meant I ended up almost at the very front of the lawn for his set.

My favorite songs from the Bowie and Nails tour (you'd better believe I have multiple bootlegs) are Scary Monsters (done IIRC mostly with NIN playing the instruments), Hallo Spaceboy (with two full bands, two drum kits, gigantic sounds), and of course Hurt, which was fucking transcendent.

Which is all a bit of a derail from the topic, but thanks for this post, I'll be bookmarking it and watching these as I have time.
posted by threeturtles at 3:05 AM on January 6 [19 favorites]

I have a memory of Bowie being interviewed by someone seen on on Canadian TV (I thought it was on MuchMusic, but I can't find it with that as the search), where it was a bit stiff and stilted for a bit, then the cameras are turned off, then host and Bowie are back, clearly having imbibed...something....and then they're both giggly and hilarious for the rest of the interview. I remember it was awesome. But then, it was Bowie.

What a great post.
posted by biscotti at 5:33 AM on January 6

I don't like that he died. I do like that people have really leaned into his work, though. He continues to give up super good energy. It's been really helpful the past couple of years. I am looking forward to diving into these links in depth later.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:00 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]

But then, it was Bowie.

This right here. This is the magic that he was. He changed everyone and everything around him. He had this power.
posted by Fizz at 6:06 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]

Geez, thank you. I’ve seen a few interviews & he always captivates me. Seemed like a very open, honest & casual person. Pjern’s reminisce about meeting him in Berlin bears this out - I think it’s in the obit thread?

Anyway. I am so far ahead of the book club, having already read 8 of these. Hah! Very chuffed to see Confederacy of Dunces on there. Doubt I’ll have time for the other 92, but if I ever whittle down the “to-be-read” shelf (yes, a whole shelf — I exercise poor judgement in bookstores) the list will inform its expansion.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:15 AM on January 6

Thanks for this! I will never forget waking up that morning so early in the new year and seeing the terrible news on my phone first thing.

The performance at the beginning of The Dick Cavett show clip is amazing.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:18 AM on January 6 [1 favorite]

hippybear today: Hero
posted by davebush at 6:19 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]

My household, the Temple of Bowie, is having its second Bowiemas/Bowienalia party this week. We eat sushi; this year we've mandated loud eye makeup for all attendees. Hippiebear, awesome post.
posted by Capybara at 6:50 AM on January 6

A tiny bauble for the Bowiemas tree - Bowie's thank-you clip on John Peel's This Is Your Life.
posted by Devonian at 7:18 AM on January 6 [4 favorites]

Iggy & Bowie on Dinah! circa 1977 is also kinda fun, but Iggy does most of the talking. (In related, I think Bowie was also scheduled but ducked out of Iggy's weird CBC interview with Peter Gzowski from around the same time.)
posted by ovvl at 8:48 AM on January 6

How on Earth do I get my hands on a copy of Hawksmoor? And oh, Duncan Jones is a gift. I admire the way he's forged his own identity and then took on the task of maintaining his father's legacy through such delightful means as book clubs. It's so perfect. It's so wonderfully, beautifully perfect. And so very kind, too, if you're the type of person to think of favorite books as intimate, as I do. I know the list was released when Bowie was still on this earthly plane, but digging into them is intimate, is what I mean.

I will be the sparkliest lady at the Women's Caucus meeting, that's for sure.
posted by Ruki at 11:04 AM on January 6 [2 favorites]

If I may add one more Bowie interview to the list: 2002 - Danish television DR - 27m: Bowie is interviewed by director Thomas Vinterberg but the conversation wheels around Vinterberg's Dogme 95 movement, art, creativity, life, America, and the zoo. One of my most favorite Bowie conversations ever.
posted by quartzcity at 1:45 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]

wow, even coked out in a studio under all those lights and the awful scrutiny of a tv chat he comes across as more coherent, introspective, far-thinking and interesting than the hosts with their questions.

i only watched part of the first two links but you can see how they're bound (like i suppose most of us were at the time) by the image of bowie the weird. even as he patiently tried to explain how he was just a working artist, and a hard-working artist at that.

bowie songs today often hit me with a tinge of regret, because i was too stupid and dull to really get him at the time. only with his final release, which sets the high-water mark for swan songs, did i catch on.
posted by ecourbanist at 1:45 PM on January 6 [1 favorite]

only with his final release, which sets the high-water mark for swan songs, did i catch on.

I had a friend over and used Blackstar to download over iTunes to show him how that worked (I'd already ordered the CD, but yeah, whatever), and then like 12 hours later Bowie was dead and it was a very troubling set of circumstances because Bowie was supposed to always be alive forever.
posted by hippybear at 6:02 PM on January 6 [2 favorites]

Listening to Blackstar for the first time in a long while and it's possible that having sifted through all these interviews is making this a more difficult listen for me than it might have been otherwise.

RIP David. You are a bright shining light on this planet that continues, and I pray you will never go out.
posted by hippybear at 8:01 PM on January 6 [6 favorites]

My ten year old son and I celebrated Bowiemas early at the Bowie exhibit at MoPOP in Seattle. He was dancing around all over the place while everyone else seemed sad and serious. I felt like he was showing them how to commemorate the holiday.
posted by vverse23 at 9:35 PM on January 6 [4 favorites]

This is a wonderful son's tribute to his father. Also copies of Hawksmoor on the the used market have gone nuts. Maybe he should have talked to Ackroyd about getting it reissued.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 9:07 PM on January 7

Blessings of Bowiemas to y'all. <3
posted by ob1quixote at 1:35 PM on January 8 [4 favorites]

Reverb has a neat tutorial for "Life On Mars"
posted by thelonius at 5:52 AM on January 9

Did anyone else watch the HBO documentary? I thought it was really interesting. I should watch it again.
posted by hippybear at 9:30 PM on January 12

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