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Monday, April 3, 2017

David Bowie - "Alabama Song"/"Space Oddity" 45 rpm Vinyl, 1980 (RCA)

There is no better song than "Alabama Song."   I only know four versions:  Lotte Lenya, The Doors, David Johansen (N.Y. Dolls) and of course, David Bowie.  All versions of this song are great.  Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil wrote it.  And thinking about it now, this song I knew since I was a baby.  My family household played the "Lotte Lenya Singing Weil" album, and my German grandmother had the album as well.  So no escaping from "Alabama Song."  Nor do I want to flee from this song.   Bowie does a great version, which was recorded during his "Lodger" period, and I presume with the same band that is on the album.    A commentary on his times in Berlin, when he lived there with Iggy Pop during the making of "The Idiot" and "Lust for Life."   There is a sense that he's singing this song as if it was something from his past. Even though it was a few years in the past, it had the bite of discovery.  I think for him, and for me as a listener.   It's a beautiful melody, and all versions are sung if the melody is crashing into a wall.   What comes afterward is a new beginning.  A new something. 

"Space Oddity, " this version recorded in 1980 is the best.  Sparse, and very much reminds me of John Lennon's "Plastic Ono Band" recording.  The minimal approach is piano, loud drums, and maybe a touch of an electric guitar, with the acoustic.  It has always been a beautiful song, and by far, this version is the best.    Not sure if it is easy to track down - or if it is in a best of Bowie album somewhere in the world.  But do get it.