it’s just the power to charm: modern love = greatest bowie song

Terrifies me!

Friend of Evil the Random Rambler recently threw up a post detailing the five movies that most affected him upon first viewing. And in this list, he bravely—“bravely?” how about suicidally, in terms of street cred—includes Titanic. That’s right: the Rambler challenges you to do what you most fear—admit you enjoyed Titanic the first time you saw it. You might hate it now, and we all surely love mocking the flick, but at the time . . . at the time . . . it swept you away. Kudos to the Rambler.

Evil applauds courage. Especially courage in the face of what would seem destined to end in withering scorn. And while he’s not prepared to drop a Titanic-sized bomb on you, dear reader, he has in the past shown a willingness to take unpopular stands. He praised Phil Collins. Excoriated fantasy football. Admitted he would, in spite of himself, kinda sorta mourn the passing of Total Request Live.

And so today, Evil duly declares: “Modern Love” is the best Bowie song.

Evil is assuming you’re having one of two reactions to this statement:

Reaction One: “This guy knows jack shit about Bowie. What a wanker.”

Reaction Two: “Hmm . . . wasn’t that the guy in Labrynth?”

Ignoring those Second Reactors, let’s address the First, belonging to those who, with some justification, see ‘80s Bowie as a crap-greased ski jump of ass leading inexorably to his 1985 collaboration with Jagger on “Dancing In the Street.” Fair enough.

There are other apparent strikes. For instance, you might retort, “Um, isn’t that a drum machine there, Flocka Seagulls?” Yep, seems to be—”evidence” from the above video notwithstanding.

Or: “If you’re going to choose a song off Let’s Dance, how about the title track, which at least features axwork by a real live (at the time, at least) guitarist, Mista Stevie Ray Vaughan?”

Or: “Ever heard Hunky Dory?”

To which Evil replies: sod off. He’s been there, too, you know . . . that first dim awareness of the Thin White Duke when a young lad finds himself intoning “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!” repeatedly and for no apparent reason . . . spacing out to “Space Oddity” in a smoke-choked dorm room. . . .

As one attempts to establish a firmer grounding on the street-cred level of Bowie appreciation, one declares “Oh, You Pretty Things” or “Life on Mars?” the GBSOAT. Then, inevitably, those who arrive at Bowie after crawling up from the primordial muck of ’80s arena rock dub “Suffragette City” king of Bowie songs. As we become a little more aware, and comfortable, with our groove thangs, we shift to “Young Americans.” But inexorably, we are forced to face up to the fact that one Bowie song outshines all others. “Modern Love.”

It just . . . is . . . the greatest Bowie song. Replete with suitably ambiguous God/man lyrics for those of you who seek something “deeper” in your Bowie. Plus, you cannot stop yourself from singing along whenever it plays over the speakers at your local haberdashery. The apex of the man’s craft—which includes, like it or not, the drum-machiney ‘80s.

As it is written, so shall it be. Courage!

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One thought on “it’s just the power to charm: modern love = greatest bowie song”

  1. I never felt like I understood that song. I still don’t feel like I do. I mean, it seems simple enough, but whenever I start to really think about the point he’s trying to make with this, it just doesn’t make any sense at all. All I can guess is he meant it as a foreshadowing of his big “guess what? I was a straight guy all along, suckers! Check out my hot black trophy wife with yellow eyes from another planet!” announcement about a decade later.

    Or maybe he was just being sarcastic?

    I dunno, but I never liked it.

    Best Bowie song ever was Rock n Roll Suicide. Period.

    As for “deeper” Bowie, didn’t he go through some crazy kabballah/Crowley/Dalí phase? Meh — PT Barnums the lot of ’em! In that sense, you may be correct — maybe Modern Love is just about as deep as it ever got with Bowie, and the rest was just a bunch of 70s arch posturing.

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