ISSUE DATE: July 18, 1983
He led the Glitter Rock movement, turned himself into music’s most exquisite artifact, then turned away. Subsumed in his own myth, Bowie became a zombie, sending back musical dispatches from the dead zone. He was a casualty, but he endured. He was a recluse, but he kept making records (“pale blinds drawn all day, nothing to read, nothing to say”), strange albums full of pity and doubt. He was a soul, not lost but stranded, who willed himself into a survivor.
That incarnation, the current one, resplendently straight and sincere, is riding the high crest of a huge success and a resurgent career, bringing a lot of history to new songs with lines like “I’m lying in the rain/ But I never wave bye-bye.” So hello, David Bowie. All of you.
At 36, the oldest fresh force in rock, this new Bowie seems to share few qualities with old Ziggy, the polymorphous camp extravaganza, the most gilded lily of rock’s gaudiest age. What binds these identities together is a gift that is cerebral and carnal, frequently danceable and always entertaining. His former crony Lou Reed has sung about it. Deep down inside, Bowie has a rock-’n’-roll heart.
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