Blogging from A to Z: Reflections on the 2018 Challenge

A-to-Z Reflection [2018]Technically, this reflection post is not supposed to happen until tomorrow.  However, I have the time and inclination to do it today … and I don’t think anyone will condemn me.

This was my second year participating in the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge.  Last year, I did it on a whim — and with no real plan.  I wound up doing some general posts and a healthy dose of Facts from My Fiction.  This year, I had a plan:  The Music of David Bowie.  I presented 26 Bowie songs (okay, 25 … and one by Angie Bowie because there was no X song), trivia, and album information.  I not only shared the hits, but also some deep cuts with which many readers were unfamiliar but still enjoyed.

funny-pictures-exhausted-cat-alphabetized-cdsEngagement was down 30 percent this year during the challenge.  Frankly, I don’t know quite why that is.  People were perhaps less interested in my theme, or maybe (as was the case for me) found having to register their post on one list and go to one or more other lists to find posts to visit time-consuming and a little bothersome.  Personally, I preferred putting the post link in a comments list where I could readily find other blogs and see what the subject was rather than trying to guess it on the daily letter list or match it up with the master theme reveal list to see whether it was interesting to me.  So, I also commented on fewer blogs than I did in the past.  Still, I did find some interesting new blogs to follow.

Astute observers of this year’s challenge will notice that I didn’t include any of the songs from Bowie’s brilliant final album, Blackstar.  Honestly, I’m still not ready.  I’ve been a fan since I was 12 years old, and that was a long time ago.  Losing David Bowie was, for me, like losing a family member … and Blackstar (particularly “Lazarus”) is an album that shows us Bowie knew his time was short and that he wanted to give us one last gift of music.

From the beginning of this year’s challenge, I knew what song and performance I would use to bring the whole thing full circle at the end.  David Bowie’s first major hit was “Space Oddity,” in 1969.  The song influenced later hits “Ashes to Ashes” (from Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)) and “Hallo Spaceboy” (from 1. Outside).  It was this song that Toronto’s Choir! Choir! Choir! sang after Bowie’s passing, in the rotunda of Art Gallery of Ontario where I saw the David Bowie Is … exhibit in 2013.  There could be no more fitting send-off.

If you missed any of this year’s A to Z Challenge posts, you will find them at this link.  Thank you, as always, for reading.

 

 

 

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Blogging from A to Z: Z is for “Ziggy Stardust”

zHere we are, on the last day of the 2018 Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  I’ll have some thoughts about this year’s project in a wrap-up post on May 7.  In the mean time, let’s get down to business.

While there were other David Bowie songs that begin with Z, I knew which one I wanted immediately.

Song: Ziggy Stardust

Album: The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)

Personnel: David Bowie (vocals, acoustic guitar), Mick Ronson (electric guitar), Trevor Bolder (bass guitar), Mick Woodmansey (drums)

ziggy_stardustWhat I love about this track:  Several times throughout this series, I’ve mentioned my fondness for Bowie as a balladeer.  His ability to tell a story in song is unparalleled in modern times.  “Ziggy Stardust” is a splendid example of the art.

Trivia:  “Ziggy Stardust” is one of four Bowie songs included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

Why I chose this video:  I am not going to lie, I looked at easily a dozen videos before narrowing it down.  This one, from the Reality tour, really got me.  After all of the numerous faux retirements, this one was really the last.  It seemed an appropriate way to say goodbye to the challenge for 2018.

 

Blogging from A to Z: Y is for “Yassassin”

ySong: Yassassin

Album: Lodger (1979)

Personnel: David Bowie (vocals, background vocals, synthesizer), Dennis Davis (drums, background vocals), George Murray (bass, background vocals), Carlos Alomar (rhythm guitar, background vocals), Tony Visconti (lead guitar, background vocals), Simon House (violin, background vocals)

Bowie-lodgerWhat I love about this track:  The juxtaposition of Middle Eastern harmonics and modalities with reggae is oddly charming.

Trivia: The song’s title is derived from a Turkish verb, yaşasın, which translates as “may s/he live a long life.”

Why I chose this video: Frankly, I thought it might be fun to provide you all with the lyrics for a change.

Blogging from A to Z: X is for (E)x-wife

xYes, I know.  It’s a bit of a cheat, to say the least.  The only letter for which David Bowie has no song is, not too shockingly, X.  However, his ex-wife, Angie, does have a song.

Song: Crying In The Dark

Album: Moon Goddess (1985)

newmoongoddessPersonnel:  Angie Bowie, Chico Rey.  I can find absolutely nothing else about this record.

Trivia: Angie produced the video and won an award for it in Germany.

Blogging from A to Z: W is for “Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud”

wSong: Wild-Eyed Boy from Freecloud

Album: Space Oddity (1969)

Personnel: David Bowie (vocals, guitar), Paul Buckmaster (arco bass), Tony Visconti (orchestral arrangements), Mick Ronson (guitar, handclaps)

What I love about this track:  Bowie started out in jazz, and then moved on to folk music.  “Wild Eye Boy from Freecloud” is a ballad about someone who stands out from society … and not in a good way, according to said society.  In Bowie’s own words about the song: “It was about the disassociated, the ones who feel as though they’re left outside, which was how I felt about me. I always felt I was on the edge of events, the fringe of things, and left out. A lot of my characters in those early years seem to revolve around that feeling. It must have come from my own interior puzzlement at where I was” (as quoted in Charles Welch’s We Could Be Heroes).

space oddityTrivia: This is reputed to be Mick Ronson’s first appearance on a Bowie recording.

Why I chose this video:  While there were some live versions, they cut the song short and segued into another tune.  I decided to use this audio-only track from a BBC radio performance with just Bowie and his band rather than a full-on orchestra.  There is something elegant in the spare arrangement that speaks to me.