Wednesday, March 16, 2016

David Bowie: Sound And Vision


I was nominated by my friend Dan on Facebook to post a David Bowie song each day for seven days.
I don't have an extensive collection of Bowie deep cuts, so some of these are going to be old faves - but ones that mean something special to me. 

First up is Sound and Vision from the album Low.

It starts with a heavily-treated snare drum announcement - rat-tat..tat! and goes into a long instrumental introduction that struck me as perfectly worked out, like a song in the round, in that you could listen to it forever and it would always lead back into itself in such a way that there is no part where you could imagine getting off the ride. And I didn’t - when it first came out, after each listening I lifted the tone arm and dropped it again and again back at the start. There’s the bass playing - and that fine guitar - and that...thing...that takes the place of a crash cymbal with its unusual and yet perfect sound - tfff! and the two times Bowie’s voice seems to wake up to its (electric blue) surroundings with that delighted sigh - ah ah! and Mary Hopkin comes in as the (moon)colored girl who goes doo-doo-doo, and then, finally, Bowie comes in on an unexpectedly low register to tell us that he’s holed up in his room, waiting for the gift of sound and vision. Before you have time to wonder why he thinks he doesn’t already have it, he’s out of here, and it’s time to drop the needle at the start and begin it again. 

Having said that, I’m not sure you can hear much of that on a Youtube rip. Unless you have it on vinyl or CD, it’s probably best just to think of it as a nice choon. A lot of its iconic quality comes from its situation in its own milieu, in any case. The seventies, English world of Chris Petit’s Radio On movie, with the Man Who Fell To Earth similarly playing with film grammar, the fact that I was away from home for the first time, living in the Halls of Residence at university. Listening to Sound and Vision again, I can feel that time again, smell it and almost touch it. 

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