Ashes to Ashes: The Songs of David Bowie, 1976-2016

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“Listen to a Bowie song at breakfast, do a spot of research, write a couple of paragraphs, hit “publish,” and that would be that,” Chris O’Leary says of the blog that became a two-volume doorstop of Bowie cataloging. Ashes to Ashes, the second volume, covers everything between 1976 and 2016 – from Iggy Pop’s The Idiot to Bowie’s own Blackstar, released two days before his death.

Everything. Like bizarre anal-retentive dissertation-level completionism. But it’s far from being a bland desk reference.

At the start of his entry for Low’s “Sound and Vision”, O’Leary casually notes that he played the song over and over as his marriage fell apart and then he fades into the background again before the entry is over. Five hundred pages later, we get the surreal story of O’Leary’s crossing the Queensboro Bridge on foot on 9/11. “Men jumped on bumpers of barely-moving trucks, drinking Budweiser, ogling women, calling for them to strip.”

The whole book has a sad sort of epitaph vibe. David Bowie as the soundtrack for the second half of the twentieth century, which started off so high, only to come… well, you were probably there. And you were probably listening to Bowie.

To kids these days, there isn’t much difference between Bowie and George Washington, according to O’Leary. “Both live in museums, keeping company with tapestries, suits of armor, and uncomfortable wooden chairs.”

What a bummer.

But of course, while that pasty sack of blood and bones we called David Bowie no longer hangs around, his voice will haunt us forever, and for that, we are grateful.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Trade
Page Count 710 pages
Publisher Repeater
Publish Date 2019-02-19
ISBN 9781912248308 Buy this Book
Issue Mar-19
Category Music & Movies


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