The next years brought almost nothing from the David Bowie camp. Between his heart problems and his newly born daughter, what possible reason would he have to venture out into the world? Sightings of the Thin White one became scarce. Bowienet had faded away as dialup became obsolete. Once I moved to North Carolina in 2001, that was the end of my Bowienet usage; they had no local dialup numbers where I moved to. Meanwhile, Davidbowie.com had calcified into a ghastly Flash-based website frozen in 1998 and best abandoned. Attempts to use it were infuriating, at best. Amidst all of this decrepitude, there were rumblings that he had come onstage with the band Arcade Fire to sing two songs at some fashion event. Then, as now, the band’s name meant nothing to me, so I’ve yet to hear them or Bowie’s performance with them. Just because David Bowie lent his imprimatur to something, didn’t mean that I was going to bother investigating it.
By far the biggest public profile Bowie had during this year was his appearance in the Christopher Nolan film “The Prestige.” His guest star turn as the brilliant physicist Nikola Tesla was a role that Bowie fan Nolan had to coax the now-reluctant star to lend his wattage to. He acquitted himself strongly in the role and capped his cinematic career on a higher plane than some of the roles which came his way in the thirty years between “The Man Who Fell To Earth” and “The Prestige.” The twilight of 2006 also produced another David Bowie A-list live cameo, this time with half of The Pink Floyd performing a tribute to the original leader of the band, Syd Barrett, who had died that Summer. Though I have time for The Pink Floyd, I have not yet heard this cover. In retrospect, the two live performances Bowie cameoed in were a hotbed of live performance activity. As 2006 became 2007, these vanished completely.
2008 saw Bowie sing backing vocals on actress Scarlett Johanssen’s “Anywhere I Lay My Head” album of… Tom Waits covers? Well, it doesn’t get any more surreal than that. One supposes that Bowie may have seen the prospect of singing on his erstwhile acting partner’s [from “The Prestige”] project as a bit of a lark, but I now recall that I think Bowie played all of this scenes with just Hugh Jackman. Who knows why this ever happened. I’ve liked some of her movies, but it never occurred to ever check this project out. When I want to hear Tom Waits, it will always be the man himself. I don’t see the point of covers.
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