David Bowie Memory Palace [part 35]

David Bowie was most visible in the guise of Nikola Tesla in the 2006 film "The Prestige"

David Bowie was most visible in the guise of Nikola Tesla in the 2006 film “The Prestige”

2005-2008

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.

not pink floyd - arnoldlayneUK7ABy 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.

scarlett johansson - everywhereilaymyheadUSCDA2008 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.

Next: …Just A Temporary Stopgap Measure To Appease The Constabulary

 

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | media design • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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12 Responses to David Bowie Memory Palace [part 35]

  1. Tim says:

    I was dubious of the SJ covers album, Waits covers are after all a dime a dozen. Some of them are as awful as you would expect and others are quite good, “I Don’t Want to Grow Up” comes to mind instantly as one of the better ones. The Holly Cole album of Waits covers is worth seeking out.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Ooooh! Good call on the Ramones cover! I heard that one before the original, so I don’t perceive it as a cover, though it is.

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      • Tim says:

        I didn’t know that was a Ramone’s cover, I always thought that Waits wrote it. Learn something new every day.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Tim – Whoops. Crossed wires. Now I realize you were referencing Johanssen’s cover of “I Don’t Want To Grow Up.” I was thinking of the Ramones version on their final album, “Adios, Amigos.” It’s really great, and I heard it when it came out [1995]. I didn’t get a copy of “Bone Machine” until two years ago.

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  2. Echorich says:

    While Bowie may have been good in The Prestige, it was a bit of a yawn for me. The Arnold Layne appearance is also not something I ever go back to after checking it out on YouTube. I have heard one of the DB/SJ songs and I honestly have no opinion on it, which in itself is not a good thing. I felt the same about the 50th Birthday Concert back in 97. Bowie singing with Robert Smith, Frank Black or Billy Corgan was uninteresting to me at the time…

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Wow. That 50th birthday concert was something I totally forgot about. Should have mentioned it but seeing as I never saw or heard it… I agree that the cast of characters was not inspiring! Then or now. By that time I was a lapsed Cure fan. Was I ever really a fan of that group?

      As far a “The Prestige” being a yawn, ever try “The Linguini Incident?” Count your blessings!

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  3. For me, the definitive Bowie role was him playing Andy Warhol in Basquiat. Talk about bringing something around full circle!

    The Bowie appearance with fine-but-overrated Arcade Fire is fine. They, appropriately awed at the great man himself making a rare appearance, act as backing band for faithful renditions of “Life on Mars” and “Five Years,” which is worth having IMO. Bowie then graciously duets on one of their songs, “Wake Up.” It would have sat comfortably on Hours, which I suppose is pretty high praise, but it also reminds me of a lot of college rock from the period. Never heard more than one of the SJ songs.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – Hmmm. I forgot all about his Warhol turn in “Basquiat.” When did we finally see that [wrinkles nose] maybe 2005? Possibly after seeing “The Diving Bell And The Butterfly” alerted us to Julian Schnabel’s talents as a director. Another admirable Bowie performance.

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  4. Brian says:

    Days is a beautiful song and my favorite from this decade. It’s worth buying the bonus live version as a download, as you suggested. That’s exactly what I did at the time.

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