The news is moving terribly fast. George Conway, the contrarian Never-Trumper spouse of Donald factotum Kellyanne, just posted on Twitter he thinks there are now 67 votes to impeach America’s Seditionist-in-Chief. I have serious stuff to write and post, including the launch of our COVID Family Project. There is a life-threatening global pandemic still going on and getting worse, even as vaccines roll out with just as many royal feck-ups as everything Trump touches.
Or, as Rick Wilson explained for the ages: “Everything Trump Touches Dies.”
Yet at this dire moment, I plant myself firmly on the side of the culture, joy, and art we’re attempting to preserve and defend from the bad actors and poisoned minds who attempted a deadly Coup d’Trump this week. More to come on that side of the news. Right now, however, I am quick-posting two things from WestVirginiaVille’s “Play That Funky Music News Department.” ~ Douglas John Imbrogno, WestVirginiaVille editor
1. David Bowie Thing 1
In the midst of a kaka storm of insurrections news this day, David Bowie’s estate is marking the musician’s 74th birthday (which is today, Jan. 8, 2021) by sharing previously unreleased covers of John Lennon’s “Mother” and Bob Dylan’s “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven.” Bowie died in 2016, so unreleased tunes five years later are good news indeed. Here they are below:
The Consequence of Sound reports that Bowie’s “re-imagining” of “Mother,” which Lennon put out in 1970,was originally recorded by hm in 1998 with producer Tony Visconti. It was supposed to appear on a Lennon tribute collection, but the release never happened:
The other cover is of “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven”, from Dylan’s 1997 Grammy-winning album Time Out of Mind. Bowie recorded this version in 1998 while working on his live album LiveAndWell.com that came out the following year. The new Bowie recordings are packaged as a limited-edition, two-song 7-inch single from Rhino Records. A total of only 8147 copies is up for grabs, 1000 of which are cream colored.
The publication notes that in further celebration of Bowie’s birthday, a star-studded livestream tribute is scheduled for later today (Friday, Jan. 8, 2020). “A Bowie Celebration: Just For One Day!” will boast performances from Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Jane’s Addiction vocalist Perry Farrell, and more.
2. David Bowie Thing 2
But wait, you remonstrate. Why are you reporting on David Bowie news for a publication called WestVirginiaVille? Was he BORN in the Mountain State before he was Bowie, and just lowly David Robert Jones?! Did his Mammaw hail from Slab Creek? Did her orange, old-lady pompadour inspired Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs”-era look??! Did David Bowie spend his final days living up a holler, in a nondescript house up Pluto Road in Shady Springs WV, hiding out from the paparazzi?!!?
No, no, and no!
BUT — much beloved West Virginia native, actress, musical provocateur and cultural bon vivant Ann Magnuson did once channel Bowie’s musical spirit at the Empty Glass in Charleston WV. And, fortunately, I was there that night with an ancient Motorola Razr phone in hand.
Below is my lightly edited footage from that July 15, 2010 show. It featured Magnuson and a band led by Chuck Biel, with Ryan Kennedy on guitar; Vince Biel on drums, Laurel Denny on backing vocals, Biel on bass, and Doug Payne on sax. Magnuson later reprised the show and performed it in Los Angeles on the occasion of David Bowie’s 64th birthday on Jan. 8, 2011.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Stay for Ann’s kick at the end!
Magnuson’s LA shows were at the Steve Allen Theater and featured her backing band, the Star Whackers From Mars (Kristian Hoffman, Jonathan Lea, Joe Berardi, Kristi Callanand, Miiko Watanabe, plus guest performer Michael Des Barres).
PS: Why Bowie Matters
A few years ago I did an interview with Ann about why David Bowie’s music matters still. Here is a portion of our chat:
WESTVIRGINIAVILLE: Why exactly does Bowie still matter in popular music, do you think?
MAGNUSON: “He wrote SONGS. Very good and smartly crafted songs. With melodies. That told very evocative — and quite frequently seductive — stories. Plus, by his own admission, he ‘purloins’ and he tends to purloin from very interesting sources — at least he did when I was buying his records in the 1970s. I think those albums are still radical.
I just watched the D. A. Pennebacker documentary of the last Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars show from July 3, 1973, and both the music and the visuals still hold up. If anything, the simplicity of the presentation makes it far more radical than anything out there today, since the likes of “American Idol” and Lady Gaga have turned rock into some kind of fast-food commodity, trundling out the same-old same-old with everyone trying way too hard to be ‘outre‘.
MAGNUSON: What struck me during this latest viewing of the Ziggy doc is how little Bowie actually does on stage. He’s so clearly in his element and knows how to just let his charisma do most of the work, choosing to be very economical with his movement. That mime training surely helped.