Friday, September 28, 2012

Collecting Bowie

I’ve always been a collector. As a child I collected GI Joe and Masters of the Universe figures and toys. As a pre-teen and teen I collected baseball cards (and as an adult… as Mitch Hedberg said, “I still do, but I used to too.”). In early adulthood I collected rare books, because I had finely tuned my pretension.

Now I’m collecting Bowie.
As in, I’m now in the habit of spending time and money in the pursuit of owning David Bowie’s official discography- in its entirety- on vinyl.

“Why?” is a question I’ve been asked, and fairly.
I answer variously.
“Why wouldn’t I?”, is one answer.
“There’s nobody better than Bowie and I want to have all of what’s best,” is another.
“Shut up and mind your own stupid business,” is probably the most sensible and complete answer I can give.

The fact is that I’m the kind of guy who obsesses about things. I’ve long been obsessed with the music of David Bowie, his early work especially. I often say that even if you don’t hear it in my actual music, Bowie is the single greatest influence on me as a songwriter. He was my introduction to concept albums and all but one of my own albums have been concept albums. His work is diverse and beautiful and frequently discomforting if not downright scary. And no popular musician has reinvented themselves as many times, nor as successfully.
He’s the best and I love him and I’ll brook no argument on the topic.

Currently I own vinyl copies of only eight of the 25 studio albums David Bowie released (and two haven’t been issued on vinyl, so let’s say 8 out of 23). I have these and a few more on CD and/or MP3, but that doesn’t really count. It doesn’t sound like many, but let’s see your collection.

Here are the ones I have:
  • Space Oddity (1969) This album was originally released under the title David Bowie: Man of Words, Man of Music. The later title is obviously superior. And I love my copy and will always keep it, but I would give my eye teeth for a good first issue under the original title and cover art.
  • Hunky Dory (1971) This is my favorite Bowie album. My record is near-mint but I’d sure buy a better sleeve to keep it in. (Vanity, is what it is. I want it to look as good as it sounds.)
  • The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars (1972) Probably Bowie’s most famous album, or at least most popular. I’ve owned no fewer than four different copies of this album. Smart money says I’ll buy more before I’m done.
  • Diamond Dogs (1974) This album is scary and has a dystopic future/post-apocalyptic feel, a theme I’ve liberally cadged throughout my work. My copy is in excellent condition and you’ll get it from me when you pry it from my cold dead hands.
  • Young Americans (1975) Bowie’s most “saxophony” album. I own one copy (that I listen to way too often) but I own two sleeves. One has a badly damaged copy of Diamond Dogs inside and I will give that to you if you want it and ask me nicely.
  • Station to Station (1976) I own an incredible first pressing of this record (that I got for an astoundingly cheap $9!) and have never been able to listen to it only once. Side B ends and I flip it back to side A for a second spin. It’s beautiful.
  • Let’s Dance (1983) This album has my favorite Bowie song, “Modern Love”. It’s a happy dance tune with perfectly bleak lyrics. “I don’t believe in modern love,” he sings. Agreed.
  • Tonight (1984) This album boasts my favorite cover art. He’s painted blue and appears almost as a religious icon super-imposed over a stained-glass window. Weird and beautiful, just how I like my Bowie.

Now. What’s my next purchase? Whichever one I come across next. My priority is Aladdin Sane (1973), a record I HAVE NEVER SEEN. More likely I’ll pick up Pin-Ups (1973), an album in pretty thick supply at record stores (I’m guessing there are so many copies because it’s a studio album comprised entirely of covers).

After I own all the studio albums I’m sure I’ll feel an overwhelming sense of peace and fulfillment. One week later I’ll start tracking down all the live albums, bootlegs, and novelty releases I can find. This is my quest, and it is a noble one. I guess.

1 comment:

  1. My goal is to help you find at least one of these albums. Just so you're aware. I'll feel a major sense of accomplishment if this occurs.