Going it alone


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this is related to that thread on erisology isn't it

well I said upthread you can't blame Bowie (or whoever) for passively benefiting from structural inequality

but equally you can't pretend their cultural production exists separate from that

it's both simple - in a cui bono way - and complicated in that there's no hard boundary separating influence from exploitation
I agree with all of this except I'm not sure about the last part; I guess it depends what you even mean by "separate," all this is weirdly conceptual, but to me, off the cuff, it feels like you can say someone borrowed from whatever was most interesting at a given moment, and also that what's culturally interesting is often put out by somewhat marginalized people, so that the practice of "borrowing from whatever's interesting" gets you into "appropriating from the marginalized" land only because of the correlation between interestingness and marginalization

at that point it's worth asking: what's the alternative? not borrow from interestingness? do more to advocate for the marginalized, i.e. give them credit? from this notion of "respectful" borrowing it feels a bit like an analogy of the stance that the only non-racist position is anti-racism, maybe that's putting words in your mouth. it seems reasonable to say bowie could've been more decent and generous with handing out credit in light of the fact that society maybe wasn't paying its fair due to the marginalized innovators. but still this seems to be getting away from the music. I guess the real dispute is that I don't quite buy into this idea that the formal position of a cultural product "cannot," inherently, be separated from the the politics or ethics of its creation. I understand that the formal positioning has a great deal to do with the social positioning. but I think you can reasonably treat one without the other; I mean, discussions need boundaries somewhere, there has to be scope; everything might be connected, but you can't talk about everything without talking about nothing at all.


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Incidentally, I've really gotten into the original Neue albums this morning, I'd only listened to 86 before. Really great, so many good jams, and Lieber Honig is so beautiful.


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in 1976 Bowie telephoned Michael Rother of NEU! to say that he and Eno had been listening to their records and were starting a project in Berlin (which would be Low) - and would he like to be involved, but he declined.
the influence was certainly noted at the time. and openly discussed by Bowie then and ever since... this is hardly news... the influence first surfaced on the title track of Station To Station and the move to Berlin pretty much underlined his intention and direction thereafter.
.. and didn't he ask Kraftwerk to open the European Station to Station shows too? Although, like the Rother guitar offer, they turned him down.
I think Bowie's always been pretty open about his influences - VU for Ziggy/Hunky Dory; soul music for Young Americans; covering his mod favourites on Pin Ups; Neu! etc for the Berlin LPs. My view is that, in each case, he takes something great and, in filtering it through his own point of view, creates something as worthwhile and substantial as his sources.
i have the 33 & 1/3 book about the low album and in it the author notes that bowie had kraftwerk's 'radio activity' playing on the p.a. before shows on the station to station tour. (also had un chien andalou screening iirc)


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Everybody's a fan at heart, and no one more than everybody's current idol, David Bowie, as he freely admits. Two performers he has idolised for years are Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. The two, probably more than any other, have by example influenced the progress of his own career. It's more than just interesting therefore when you examine the credits on Lou Reed's last album "Transformer" and Iggy's soon-to-be released, long awaited new album "Raw Power", and find alongside the producer's tag, the name of Mr. Bowie.

There's the well-known statement that Lou Reed is to Bowie what Chuck Berry was to the Rolling Stones. And just as the Stones helped to expand Mr. Berry's reputation, by recording his songs and imitating his style from time to time, so Bowie has released Lou Reed's work from the greedy clutches of the esoteric underground circles which first hallowed his name.
"I especially loved 'Queen Bitch', David's always been so upfront about these things." Mmm... Lou however, refuses to acknowledge that David owes anything to him, even though David insists he does. "I think that's really nice of David, but I think David would have been fine all by himself. "I think it's marvellous and I take it as the most delicious compliment, because I love his stuff so much, but frankly I don't understand him saying it."
The vibes which link the three are too innumerable to list, but they are a result of constant feedback. When questioned about his producer roles on their albums, Bowie disclaims any important influence. "I'm just a good organiser." He insists that he merely helped them to co-ordinate things, to interpret certain pieces which they were unsure about.


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You "contain multitudes"

btw didn't James Brown steal a riff from Bowie?
He used the Fame bassline, but 'steal ' is a bit off considering Brown is an artist firmly in the black american tradition of funk/blues/soul/jazz where top tunes and riffs are given to a communal pool of free use. In that sense its one of the biggest compliments Bowie ever got, where he finally got the snake to bite its tail, but this is still James Brown were talking about, who didnt seem to think all too much about what he put out there


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I'm not a prophet or a stone-age man
Just a mortal with the potential of a superman
I'm living on
I'm tethered to the logic of Homo Sapien
Can't take my eyes from the great salvation
Of bullshit faith
If I don't explain what you ought to know
You can tell me all about it on the next Bardo
I'm sinking in the quicksand of my thought
And I ain't got the power anymore
Don't believe in yourself, don't deceive with belief
Knowledge comes with death's release
Aah-aah, aah-aah, aah-aah, aah-aah


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He used the Fame bassline, but 'steal ' is a bit off considering Brown is an artist firmly in the black american tradition of funk/blues/soul/jazz where top tunes and riffs are given to a communal pool of free use. In that sense its one of the biggest compliments Bowie ever got, where he finally got the snake to bite its tail, but this is still James Brown were talking about, who didnt seem to think all too much about what he put out there
oh sure, I meant it snarkily; I really just meant that these things are a little circular, there's a decentralized intelligence/creativity

obviously that riff is Carlos Alomar's anyway, Bowie can't play guitar lol


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JACKSON: And one year, when all of the storks take off, Martin is sitting there at his computer watching these dots, these clouds of dots move off in different directions. And he's watching one cloud of dots which is going east, sort of through Eastern Europe and then start to curl around the eastern edge of the Mediterranean to go south into Africa.

MARTIN WIKELSKI: We had a bunch that went to Africa, a bunch ...

JACKSON: And then he sees that one of the dots, one of these storks just sort of peels off.

MARTIN WIKELSKI: Yes. So -- so that actually was Hansie.

ROBERT: Hansie.

JACKSON: Apparently, they name the storks when they tag them. So Martin actually knew specifically which one this was. Anyway, Hansie ...

MARTIN WIKELSKI: He was in an area where no other stork was at the time.

JAD: Oh, so they saw like a little blip of purple peel off?


JACKSON: Yeah, peel off from the group.

MARTIN WIKELSKI: In the southeast of Turkey, close to the Syrian border.

ROBERT: And he drops down into a patch of what seems to be utterly ignorable ground in the Middle East all alone. Like, there’s no other storks there.

JAD: Wow.

ROBERT: And ...

MARTIN WIKELSKI: So we wanted to know why did he choose to, you know, stay -- spend his winter close to the Syrian border in an area where usually no stork winters.


ROBERT: And Martin and Uschi are thinking “Well, what happened here? Did he get hurt, badly hurt? Or maybe he made a really stupid decision and is now going to starve to death."

JACKSON: So they figured, we know exactly where he is, let’s go see him.

USCHI MŰLLER: Yeah. I wanted to come along. I wanted to see that, because I'm so interested. And it's also kind of an adventure to follow the bird, to see what he's doing.

MARTIN WIKELSKI: I mean, it's actually an interesting way to have not your local travel office guide you to a place, but animals. They -- they guide you to interesting places.

USCHI MŰLLER: We flew into the Turk -- to Istanbul, rent a car and then try to -- to find the bird.

JACKSON: So they hop in the car, they start driving around. And they have their phones or their laptops or whatever out, and -- and they’re watching this little dot, which tells them basically exactly where Hansie is.

MARTIN WIKELSKI: Down -- down to the closest two meters or so, so ...

ROBERT: Oh, wow!

MARTIN WIKELSKI: But -- but only at a specific time.

JACKSON: Turns out the way this device works is that it sends out its data to a cell tower if it can find one, but only once a day.


USCHI MŰLLER: We -- we get -- we got a signal in the -- in the early, early morning. It was dark. And then ...

JACKSON: They get up, start driving around.

USCHI MŰLLER: We tried to find, to -- to come closer to the bird with the antenna, we hold outside of our car. And then the signal was -- became louder and louder.

JACKSON: And eventually, they get to a field where the signal is really strong.

USCHI MŰLLER: And -- and stayed there in the car 'til it -- the daylight comes a little bit more.

JACKSON: And just as the sun was coming up ...

USCHI MŰLLER: We saw him feeding on a -- on a field.

MARTIN WIKELSKI: Yeah, in an old field with a little ditch next to it.

JACKSON: This tall, white bird, all alone, no other storks in sight. And he looked fine.

MARTIN WIKELSKI: He was just walking around, feeding on frogs and snakes and whatnot. So he was having a good time there.

ROBERT: So are you thinking, "Good for you? You've actually discovered a -- a restaurant on the outskirts of town that none of the other storks know about?"


ROBERT: Frog City or something.

USCHI MŰLLER: [laughs] Frog City!

JAD: So what do you make of the fact that this -- is this just an errant, rogue stork getting lucky? Or is this the beginning of something?

ROBERT: Well maybe just Darwin. It may be that, you know, when you get a population group and they all, on average, do one thing, that nature kind of requires that someone on the edge do something else.

DAVID WILCOVE: There’s probably selection for at least some portion of the progeny to wander farther afield.

ROBERT: So that just in case, there’s a creature around who can handle a new environmental challenge.

MARTIN WIKELSKI: It’s actually probably those -- those innovative individuals that really in the end are really important for that entire species to thrive, but -- because they have -- they explore novel ways to do things.