Michaelwclark.com

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The late, great David Bowie’s “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore”

Poor David Bowie. I think of him often. Anyone who rises that high and then slowly burns out – artistically, I mean – well, it must be hard. Classical composers generally get better with age. But it aint necessarily so with pop stars. I guess pop music is all wrapped up in the hopes, dreams and angst of youth. So when the star isn’t a youth any more, it gets harder and harder to connect.

Bowie’s final album had a beautiful song, “Lazarus,” which to me seemed heavily influenced by an 80s band called The Cure. Most people who remember rotary dial phones have probably heard “Lazurus.” And if they were listening to pop in the 80s, I think they’d recognize The Cure connection.

But today I want to talk about another song on the final Bowie album, “‘Tis a Pity She Was a Whore.”

I don’t like this song very much. When I first saw the title I thought Bowie was just being rough and crude for the sake of it, like a relic from a different age trying to be cool. After all, today we talk about “sex-workers” and the term “whore” is totally inappropriate and probably illegal to use in public.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

But on Googling the song I found that, as often happens, there was more to Bowie’s work that I’d realized. Turns out there is an English play from 1629 by John Ford called “‘Tis Pitty Shee’s a Whore.” No doubt this influenced Bowie and I have to apologize to his enduring spirit for having judged out of ignorance!


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The Next Day – sounds more like yesterday…

Image via Tumblr

This morning I gave David Bowie’s The Next Day another listen. It came out a couple of years ago, but I was going thru a challenging time when the cd was first released, so I thought I’d give it a shot during happier times.

Stress or no stress, my impression is about the same this time as it was the first time: Good… but not great.

Like an old NASA astronaut, Bowie is to be admired. But The Next Day, for the most part, feels really YESTERDAY. The only song I might listen to again is The Stars (Are Out Tonight), which is a nice 70s sounding tune… but not quite hit material. And the overall sound quality of the album is so ridiculously compressed. It sounds like music in a can.

When I was a kid Bowie was the cool freak. Among many associations with his music is walking down Yonge Street in the 1970s, and being fascinated by all the sex, sleaze and futurism it had to offer. Don’t get me wrong, I was just a kid. But Toronto was sleazier in the 70s. Sex workers (then called “hookers,” “prostitutes,” or worse) and strip joints were more visible than in these sanitized days. And a perceptive kid could easily pick up on it. Why else did kids like to go downtown?

Oh yes, pinball and video arcades…

But everything has changed. EDM has taken the place of what artists like Bowie used to do for me. It’s fresh. It’s new. Maybe a bit mechanical. But EDM is really exploring the fringe. New sounds are coming out. Sounds that build on the 70s greats. We wouldn’t have EDM without acts like Bowie, Yes and Genesis (Peter Gabriel version). But, for me anyhow, it’s definitely time to move on.


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Millenium Hits – 21st Century


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Studio 90s

I was living in this beat up old house in the 90s, doing my Ph.D on a shoestring budget. I didn’t like much of the music on the radio but have sifted through the forgettables to get this playlist!


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Essential 60s (I always wanted to be a DJ…)


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Christmas Without You

A tune I’ve been working on since last summer… this is a rough take recorded on iPad (= thump thump) but what the heck…

After watching this a couple of time, I think I like the little “beam up” at the end most of all! Going to have to figure out how to get the thump out of the recording without drowning out the voice. It’s fun recording on the iPad. Fast and easy. I find that when I take a long time to set up more complicated gear, the original inspiration dies and the song comes out sorta wooden.


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New David Bowie Single – Where Are We Now?

I remember when the web was new and Bowie’s site didn’t charge to chat there. What fun I had at the section called “Discourse.” I (and a few others) took on all sorts of usernames and played out several personas. Bowie allowed that back then. He even encouraged it. I guess calling the chat room “Discourse” was Bowie’s slightly pretentious (?) way of being postmodern. I mean, he could have just called it “Chat.” Pretentious or not, it’s hard to say. Many would say he’s a sophisticated artiste.

Anyhow, this video leans heavily on the sophisticated side. Nice tune. Nice video. The Old Minstrel continues to inspire!