"Ground Control to Fire and Water listeners! Check ignition and may the latest episode of Fire and Water Records be with you!"
All three Daly Brothers, Ryan, Neil, and David Ace Gutierrez come together to pay tribute to the chameleonic and legendary David Bowie.
- "Space Oddity" from DAVID BOWIE
- "Under Pressure" from HOT SPACES (Queen)
- "Suffragette City" from THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS
- "Magic Dance" from LABYRINTH: ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK
- "Panic In Detroit" from ALADDIN SANE
- "The Jean Genie" from ALADDIN SANE
- "I'm Afraid of Americans" from EARTHLING
- "Heroes" from "HEROES"
- "Ziggy Stardust" from THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE SPIDERS FROM MARS
- "TVC 15" from STATION TO STATION
- "Try Some, Buy Some" from REALITY
- "Life On Mars" from HUNKY DORY
- Rock and Roll With Me" from DIAMOND DOGS
- "Where Are We Now?" from THE NEXT DAY
- "All the Young Dudes" from RARESTONEBOWIE
- "Queen Bitch" from HUNKY DORY
- "Tin Machine" from TIN MACHINE (Tin Machine)
- "Changes" from HUNKY DORY
Addition songs used: "Golden Years", "Underground", "Rock 'n Roll Suicide", "Modern Love", "The Hearts Filthy Lesson", "Rebel Rebel", "Let's Dance", "Starman"
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10 responses to “Fire and Water Records: David Bowie”
David Bowie didn’t wear a mullet like anyone else everyone else has worn a mullet like David Bowie. The mullet was created by Bowie (well technically his hair dresser based on what he asked) and copied by everyone else.
I still have something like 45 minutes left on this episode, as I’ve listened to it off & on during drive time and lunches, sometimes until I doze off in the car from my usual and increasingly perilous over-extension, until a call or alarm rouses me again. So basically, I probably won’t ever consciously hear it entirely, and I see a window for comment, so let’s get on with it.
As mentioned elsewhere, my entry point into Bowie is uncommon. 1970s pop & rock are my father’s sweet spot, but my own blind spot, as I simply wasn’t exposed to that material until after we started spending time together. It’s possible I heard “Space Oddity” in passing somewhere, but I have no conscious recollection. More likely my first exposure was one of his 1983 singles, like “Let’s Dance” or “China Girl”, but the song I specifically recall hearing at least roughly contemporaneous to release was the following year’s “Blue Jean”. For some reason, that song recalls hanging out on my grandmother’s balcony with my first girlfriend, although I’m not entirely confident in that association. There’s also a slim chance I caught his cameo in Yellowbeard, but I may be confusing it with Cheech & Chong’s The Corsican Brothers (they’re in both, and neither was any good.)
Where I definitely knew Bowie from was the 1985 bomb Into the Night, John Landis’ first movie after having killed three people, and I feel a better one than the more successful Spies Like Us. I’d seen Jeff Goldblum and Michelle Pfeiffer in other things, but this was where I’d start paying attention. Bowie plays a hitman in the film, one of many people gunning for the leads, but he also made an impression. For a very short while, that’s what I knew Bowie from– the guy in that movie that also sings. 1985 opened that up more, as I had a cassette tape of covers of movie hits that featured an impersonation of Bowie performing “This Is Not America” from The Falcon and the Snowman. His and Mick Jagger’s cover of “Dancing in the Street” was big enough to cross over into my musical silo of country and oldies. Since I probably caught it at the dollar theater, and music had a longer charting life back then, I could have seen Labyrinth before or after “Streets.” That was obviously a game changer. The movie I liked well enough, but the songs and Bowie’s portrayal of Jareth the goblin king made lifelong impressions. I can break out into a rendition of “Magic Dance” at any given time, certainly the shower, with “Underground” and to a much lesser extent “As the World Falls Down” occasionally cycling in. Few beings in existence have ever been cooler, only magnified by his ability to pull it off while juggling glass balls and showing his penis to Muppets. Anyway, “Absolute Beginners” may have gotten in there somewhere as well.
By the late ’80s going into the ’90s, I certainly had a bit more exposure to Ziggy Stardust, but it still didn’t resonate with me, and I’m not sure that I caught another acting gig besides a brief role on the HBO sitcom Dream On. Yet, I’m fairly certain that I bought the April 1992 issue of Movieline, straying from my usual Premiere Magazine, for his cover feature. It remains to this day the best and most impactful interview that I’ve ever read, if it qualifies. The article is actually a career overview and analysis that pivots around an interview where the author agonizes over whether they can bring themselves to ask Bowie is it’s true that he once collected and refrigerated his own urine in jars. It opens with questions as to the nature of identity, considers his varied and underappreciated films, detours into anecdotes regarding a prospective screenplay he wrote about the second coming of Christ that John Lennon told him was just too evil, man. Bowie struck me as perhaps the most fascinating single individual that I’d ever heard of, a total aspirational figure.
Around this same time, The Rocky Horror Picture Show had finally hit video, and at my father’s recommendation, my brother and I watched it. As we pranced around the living room imitating Dr. Frank-N-Furter on a repeat viewing that same weekend, certainly questions of gender nonconformity had to come to mind. I was no stranger to homophobia, growing up in Texas in the ’80s, and I’d be lying if I said certain slurs never crossed my lips. That having been said, for whatever reason, I never took serious issue with the queer life. At some point, I watched a talk show where Angie Bowie claimed her then-husband had slept with Jagger, and while the audience gasped, I just thought that if true, it was an feather in both their caps. To my mind, gender fluid people like Bowie and Tim Curry were just inherently more evolved, sophisticated, and fulfilled… certainly more so than a pair of redneck straight boys with little sexual experience only momentarily playing at that role in song and dance. still hadn’t had any significant encounters with the queer community, but they primed me to be more welcoming of it than most of my peers.
“Fame ’90” landed on the Pretty Woman soundtrack, which I owned, and I think “Changes” had some minor revival. Martha’s Greatest Hits on MTV strengthened my familiarity with his ’80s singles. Vanilla Ice brought “Under Pressure” to my attention. Stephen King’s Golden Years TV-mini-series was no It, or even Sometimes They Come Back. I hated Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me on video or cable in my one viewing prior to 2018, with Bowie’s Cajun accent being one of many offputting elements. Tin Machine was not my jam. At some point I rented The Man Who Fell to Earth and The Hunger, not getting off (or plain getting) either. Bowie the person still seemed awesome, but Bowie the artist wasn’t doing it for me.
Thanks to my brother, I was down with NIN from the beginning, and I was steered by coworkers to a sick short-lived altrock station around 1994 that kept “Modern Love” in rotation until 1995’s Outside delivered “The Hearts Filthy Lesson”. The following year’s Earthling added “Little Wonder” and “I’m Afraid of Americans” to those airwaves, plus a direct connection to Trent Reznor beyond that decade’s sonic debt to his influence. As my sister got into her teens, Bowie and Pink Floyd were secondhand favorites in heavy rotation. Her interest enhanced my exposure, but that ’70s material was still hers and my father’s music, not mine. Nirvana and the Wallflowers did high profile covers that in their time I preferred to the originals.
In the 21st century, I made a point of exploring Bowie further, plus his catalogue music turned up in more and better film projects. The Danny Lohner Mix of “Bring Me the Disco King” became a favorite because a co-worked added the Underworld soundtrack to the CD carousel at the sex shop (against the owner’s wishes, obviously.) Serendipity, singles, and covers are still my preferred way in. The truth is that Bowie is too experimental and his tastes too far from my own to appreciate him as an album artist. I’ve watched documentaries and interviews, developed a greater appreciation for the classics, and have a firm understanding of his cultural influence. I still think he’s magnificent and beyond most humans. There was a cringe-inducing podcast where the host was supposed to be interviewing a singer, but after finding out she knew and worked with Bowie, made it all about the minutia of their relationship. What kind of cereal he liked and such. He really was just a regular guy with bad teeth who smoked to much, but also, he aspired to be something better, and inspires the same pursuit in others. I love the man, the myth, the legend. The art is still negotiable, but when it works for me, it slaps. Down in the underground, a land serene, a crystal moon…
This was a fantastic listen, Ryan. I’m not even a Bowie fan, but it was fascinating stuff. I’m always up for hearing youse guys enthuse about music. I appreciate Bowie as a fantastic songwriter (I’m quite find of other people covering his songs), an endlessly curious questing figure and a wonderful human, but for some reason I’ve never gelled with him as a performer. Oddly enough, I did see him live once, at a festival in 1997, during his drum & bass era. Alas, I remember very little about it as I was somewhat worse for wear and only there for the heavier bands.
Just as an aside, Bowie was a massive Scott Walker fan (as am I), and you can definitely hear that influence in his work. In fact, Dave appears in the Scott documentary 30th Century Man and is very charming and effusive. If you’re not familiar with Scott, I’d recommend checking him out. I think, like Bowie, you’d very much appreciate his decades-long evolution from teen-idol crooner to composer of wildly experimental nightmares.
I absolutely loved this episode. I discovered Bowie—like so many other pillars of rock & roll history—when I was 13 years old and had thrown myself into late-’80s classic-rock radio; my local station included a dozen or so Bowie songs in its playlist, so I recognized them all when I bought that same “Changesbowie” compilation you guys reference. Throughout the twists and turns of his career, he managed to combine art-rock experimentation with the melodic guitar-rock fire that speaks to so many young men. No wonder he’s a favorite among the geeky, masculine, curious, generally well-adjusted intellectuals that make up the F&W community.
You hit so many of my favorite Bowie tunes—”Life on Mars?,” “Panic in Detroit,” “Queen Bitch,” “Ziggy Stardust” (my No. 1), even Tin Machine (I actually prefer the second TM album to the first—”You Can’t Talk” is a banger, and there’s a fantastic cover of Roxy Music’s “If There Is Something”). And like so many people, I had my own semi-rediscovery of Bowie after he passed away, though mine took the specific form of karaoke: I was singing onstage three or four nights a week at the time, in an effort to make friends after moving to a new city, and one karaoke host broke out a separate catalog of nothing but Bowie selections in tribute. So I tried a bunch of his songs, and now he might have more tunes in my karaoke rotation than any other artists. All of these are a blast to sing:
Life on Mars?
The Man Who Sold the World
I never got to see him in concert, which haunts me still. It’s thoughts like that that are encouraging me to spend $400 on a Bruce Springsteen ticket.
Great job, gentlemen, thank you.
Excellent episode, guys. My experience with David Bowie is casual at best, but I’ve always appreciated what I have heard and your talk makes me want to take a deeper dive.
Two things: The movie Neil was thinking about was “Clueless.” “All The Young Dudes” plays when Cher is contemplating the immaturity of high school boys and we get a slo-mo walk of loser high school guys.
“Modern Love” is, as the kids say, a bop.
Mistaking “clueless” for “reality bites” probably just ruined my street crowd for the next 12 months
The girls I hung out with in high school are so disappointed in you right now
One of my favorite things Bowie has done is that guest spot on Ricky Gervais’ Extras, where he improvises a song on the spot, and it COULD be scripted, but I don’t really think it is. It’s just Bowie going off and writing, arranging and performing a song in a few minutes, as per the legends.
“See his pug nose face: Pug, pug! Pug, pug!”