Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Daily Bowie #39 - "Diamond Dogs"



"This ain't rock'n'roll. This is genocide!"

The Daily Bowie #39 - "Diamond Dogs"



"Diamond Dogs" lyrics

This ain't rock'n'roll. This is genocide!

As they pulled you out of the oxygen tent
You asked for the latest party
With your silicone hump and your ten inch stump
Dressed like a priest you was
Todd Browning's freak you was

Crawling down the alley on your hands and knee
I'm sure you're not protected, for it's plain to see
The diamond dogs are poachers and they hide behind trees
Hunt you to the ground they will, mannequins with kill appeal

I'll keep a friend serene
(Will they come?)
Oh baby, come unto me
(Will they come?)
Well, she's come, been and gone.
Come out of the garden, baby
You'll catch your death in the fog
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs

The Halloween Jack is a real cool cat
And he lives on top of Manhattan Chase
The elevator's broke, so he slides down a rope
Onto the street below, oh Tarzie, go man go

Meet his little hussy with his ghost town approach
Her face is sans feature, but she wears a Dali brooch
Sweetly reminiscent, something mother used to bake
Wrecked up and paralyzed, Diamond Dogs are stabilized

I'll keep a friend serene
(Will they come?)
Oh baby, come unto me
(Will they come?)
Well, she's come, been and gone.
Come out of the garden, baby
You'll catch your death in the fog
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
Oo-oo-ooh, call them the Diamond Dogs
Oo-oo-ooh, call them the Diamond Dogs

In the year of the scavenger, the season of the bitch
Sashay on the boardwalk, scurry to the ditch
Just another future song, lonely little kitsch
(There's gonna be sorrow) try and wake up tomorrow

I'll keep a friend serene
(Will they come?)
Oh baby, come unto me
(Will they come?)
Well, she's come, been and gone.
Come out of the garden, baby
You'll catch your death in the fog
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
Young girl, they call them the Diamond Dogs
Oo-oo-ooh, call them the Diamond Dogs
Oo-oo-ooh, call them the Diamond Dogs

Bow-wow, woof woof, bow-wow, wow
Call them the Diamond Dogs
Dogs
Call them the Diamond Dogs, call them, call them
Call them the Diamond Dogs, call them, call them, ooo
Call them the Diamond Dogs

Keep cool
Diamond Dogs rule, OK
Hey-hey-hey-hey
Beware of the Diamond Dogs
Beware of the Diamond Dogs




Okay, I am cheating.

I always said one picture and one video. And here I have many photos.

But it's "Diamond Dogs," and it's Sunday, so sue me. This one's a bit more elaborate.

This is definitely one of Bowie's best songs.

TEXT FROM: PUSHING AHEAD OF THE DAME - "Diamond Dogs". I changed the font to distinguish text copied from PUSHING AHEAD OF THE DAME via the previous link.

"They’d taken over this barren city, this city that was falling apart. They’d been able to break into windows of jewelers and things, so they’d dressed themselves up in furs and diamonds. But they had snaggle-teeth, really filthy, kind of like vicious Oliver Twists. It was a take on, what if those guys had gone malicious, if Fagin’s gang had gone absolutely ape-shit? They were living on the tops of buildings…they were all little Johnny Rottens and Sid Viciouses, really." - from David Bowie, on “Diamond Dogs,” 1993.

"Where I lived was with my dadda and mum in the flats of municipal flatblock 18A, between Kingsley Avenue and Wilsonway. I got to the big main door with no trouble, though I did pass one malchick sprawling and creeching and moaning in the gutter, all cut about lovely, and saw in the lamplight also streaks of blood here and there like signatures, my brothers, of the night’s fillying."  - Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange.

“Diamond Dogs” has never sounded quite right: a sordid, overlong Rolling Stones imitation, someone else’s nightmare inflicted with malice upon you. As darkly comical as it is menacing, it’s a “classic rock” song overrun by grotesques (amputees in priest’s robes, Tod Browning rejects, various ultraviolences).

Audiences didn’t know what to make of it. “Diamond Dogs” was Bowie’s least-successful single since the Hunky Dory days, reaching only #21 in the UK, and going nowhere in the States. On the radio, it never seems to segue well: it burlesques whatever song it follows or precedes. Leading off the second side of Bowie’s hits compilation, ChangesOneBowie, it was a wide moat of a groove, taking up the space of two less disturbing songs (I often skipped it, dropping the needle on “Rebel Rebel” instead). The track sounds used, repurposed, as though Bowie found an old master tape and overdubbed slurs and noises onto it.

The germ of “Diamond Dogs” came from Bowie’s father, Haywood Jones, who had worked at Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, a British children’s charity. Jones had recounted to his son stories of the Homes’ founder, Dr. Barnardo, and his patron, Lord Shaftesbury, who had gone around Victorian London finding bands of homeless children living on the roofs of buildings. Bowie transposed that image into his now-standard future dystopia, turning the Victorian “ragged boys” into”diamond dogs”: a pack of feral kids living on high-rise roofs, going around on roller skates, robbing and mugging, terrorizing the corpse-strewn streets they live above.

A Clockwork Orange was again central (see “Suffragette City”), not only in Bowie’s droogs-like “Dogs” and their Alex-like leader, Halloween Jack, but in the song’s setting—a ruined, post-apocalyptic modernist building. It could be set in a more decayed Thamesmead South estate where Stanley Kubrick shot Clockwork Orange (or Alton West, which Truffaut used for Fahrenheit 451, or La Défense, playing a future city in Godard’s Alphaville, etc.).

"Each day the towers of central London seemed slightly more distant, the landscape of an abandoned planet receding slowly from his mind."JG Ballard, High-Rise.

Watching films from the early ’70s, you can’t avoid the general sense of shabbiness, regardless of where the films were shot. Take one contemporary example, Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail, which is a guided tour of blighted Atlantic Coast America, from Philadelphia slums to New York whorehouses to empty Boston parks. It’s decay worsened by the knowledge that the run-down train stations, corner stores and row houses were once clean, stylish, even modern places. Enduring the Seventies meant living in the ruins of the postwar dream of general prosperity, particularly in the cities, which were more and more depicted in films and in the press as asylums, graveyards and prisons.

But “Diamond Dogs,” set in appalling urban ruins, isn’t a despairing song in the slightest. It’s full of vitality, cheap loud tricks, carnival horns, vulgarities, hammering beats (take the way someone keeps thwacking on a cowbell for the nearly the entire track). It makes do with style, it makes playtime out of collapse. The elevator’s shot, so Halloween Jack swings by a rope, Tarzan-style, to reach the street.

The song seems to predict JG Ballard’s High Rise, published the following year, in which residents of a high-rise apartment complex fall into tribalism and warfare. But the high-rise dwellers come to love their new condition: they stop going to work, devoting all their energies to feral pleasures, devolving into hunter-gatherers. It ends with one survivor watching the lights go out in a neighboring high-rise, which makes him happy. He’s “ready to welcome them to their new world.” Bowie was already there.


SOME LINKS

DAVID BOWIE

DIAMOND DOGS - ALBUM

"Diamond Dogs" - song

PUSHING AHEAD OF THE DAME - "Diamond Dogs"

41 Years ago - release of  DIAMOND DOGS - ALBUM

"Diamond Dogs" - DIAMOND DOGS - 1974





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Rest in peace, David. We miss you.

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1602.28 - 8:00


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