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by David Bowie
by David Bowie
The "Rolling Stone" magazine online presence is a great place to find an article, whether you agree with the content of it or not. Today's text snip comes from one such article, dubbed "Flashback: David Bowie's Failed Attempt to Adapt George Orwell's '1984' (The writer’s wife shot down the 1974 idea)":
Bowie wanted a televised musical - or so he told William S Burroughs in a 1974 "Rolling Stone" interview. His album "Diamond Dogs", which dropped that same year, featured the straight-forward "1984", with lines like: "They'll split your pretty cranium, and fill it full of air/ And tell that you're 80, but brother, you won't care", highlighting the novel's revisionism themes and totalitarian government. Other tracks like "Big Brother" and "We Are the Dead" double down on the artist's fascination not just with Orwell's futuristic society, but Surrealism and Dada (which makes his timely interview with the post-modern author all the more fascinating).
Bowie dubbed this slice of the record the "glitter apocalypse". If "1984", heroic with gusto and Isaac Hayes-esque 'funk' (never much imagined Orwell's Winston Smith donning a leather jacket and/or egregious moustache, but the "Shaft" influence is strong) was any indication, Bowie's production would have been something to behold.
However, flamboyant hellfire never descended, as the project failed to grow into the ambitious production described to Burroughs. Orwell's widow and executor of his estate, Sonia Brownell, didn't like Bowie's ideas for bringing the book to life, so she denied him the rights.
It's a shame, really, considering the behemoth of his final goodbye and opus, "Lazarus", which shook out to be a posthumous staging. Furthermore, Donald Trump called Bowie "a great talent" in a very bizarre remark on the singer's death in January 2016. "Ignorance is strength" wouldn't look out of place in the POTUS' late-night "covfefe" tweet storms, coming from a man who doesn't seem to care about being loved nor understood.
[ More on this, and particularly the 2013 Icke and Macmillan adaptation of Orwell's story put on in London, Washington and Los Angeles, at: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/flashback-david-bowies-failed-attempt-to-adapt-george-orwells-1984-198314/ Their version re-surfaced again as a play in New York in 2017. ]
Released as a 1974 single in America, Japan and New Zealand only, it failed to chart in each of those countries. It was the last Bowie single to feature Mick Ronson on guitar.
1974 - RCA Victor - United Kingdom - From the album "Diamond Dogs".
Posted: 12th September 2019