Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

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

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Not so often Formerly Daily Bowie - #79 - "Quicksand"



The Not so often Formerly Daily Bowie - #79 - "Quicksand" - HUNKY DORY - 1971

Christmas Eve, driving home from the Creagers, Piper requested this song to be played in the car because it is her favorite Bowie song, so this one's for Piper.

I will actually add some original content, too. :-)

As a young man, obviously, I latched on to this line immediately:

"Can't take my eyes from the great salvation Of bullshit faith"

But as I grew older, and learned more, I learned about the Golden Dawn and Crowley. And this line resonated:

"Knowledge comes with death's release"

But why it's Piper's favorite song? I have no idea. I will have to ask her. Or if she sees this blog, then maybe she can just tell me.

Liesel gave me a copy of Chris O'Leary's book Rebel Rebel, where he packs in more content than he put on his blog relating to each song.

Apparently, in this period of his life, Bowie was afraid of retreading the ideas of others and that people couldn't tell him anything. "He'd reject anyone trying to impart new information to him. 'I wouldn't own up to the fact that I didn't know it all'" (O'Leary, 196).

It's a song rich with ideas, in which Bowie introduces the first sign of Gnosticism that he would return to in "Station to Station." Also, the "bardo" he mentions is a nod to Buddhism not the French actress Bardot. "Bardo" is the antechamber between reincarnations where one's karma ripens.




SOME LINKABLES

DAVID BOWIE

HUNKY DORY

"Quicksand" wiki

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"Quicksand"
first released Dec 17, 1971

I'm closer to the Golden Dawn
Immersed in Crowley's uniform
Of imagery
I'm living in a silent film
Portraying Himmler's sacred realm
Of dream reality
I'm frightened by the total goal
Drawing to the ragged hole
And I ain't got the power anymore
No I ain't got the power anymore

I'm the twisted name on Garbo's eyes
Living proof of Churchill's lies
I'm destiny
I'm torn between the light and dark
Where others see their targets
Divine symmetry
Should I kiss the viper's fang
Or herald loud the death of Man
I'm sinking in the quicksand of my thought
And I ain't got the power anymore

Don't believe in yourself
Don't deceive with belief
Knowledge comes with death's release

I'm not a prophet or a stone age man
Just a mortal with the potential of a superman
I'm living on
I'm tethered to the logic of Homo Sapien
Can't take my eyes from the great salvation
Of bullshit faith
If I don't explain what you ought to know
You can tell me all about it on the next Bardo
I'm sinking in the quicksand of my thought
And I ain't got the power anymore

Don't believe in yourself
Don't deceive with belief
Knowledge comes with death's release

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FROM CHRIS O'LEARY'S PUSHING AHEAD OF THE DAME

From: https://bowiesongs.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/quicksand/

Think of the old cliché about the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master. This, like many clichés, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master.

“Quicksand” is sugar-coated poison: a lushly-arranged, lovely tune about despair and delusion, with Nazi references, and whose chorus tells its listeners to give up all hope. Compare it to another song recorded in 1971—John Lennon’s hippie standard “Imagine,” of which Lennon later claimed “[it’s an] anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic [song], but because it’s sugar-coated, it’s accepted.” True enough, but “Imagine” also flatters its listeners by inviting them to be part of the elect, those who have no need of God or countries, those who have transcended the pettiness of life.

"Quicksand” offers no such assurances and has no community. Its singer could be a madman on the verge of total collapse, or someone (like the heroine of “Life on Mars?”) sitting a theater seat and being bombarded with ceaseless, awful images. The lyric suggests that life’s not only an illusion but one whose purpose will never be revealed, regardless of your religion, your guru or your imagination. “Knowledge comes with death’s release” is its only positive statement.

The lyric is also a look into the cluttered mind of David Bowie, age 24, as we get references to Aleister CrowleyThe Order of the Golden Dawn, film stars*, Nietzschean overmen, and Buddhism (“you can tell me all about it in the next Bardo). What’s new, and what seems a natural if unpleasant progression from Bowie’s Nietzsche obsession, is the reference to Heinrich Himmler (and the odd line about “Churchill’s lies”) and the “sacred” Nazi realm of mythology. This will culminate in Bowie’s open flirtation with Nazi imagery in the mid-’70s and in Station to Station, which is arguably his fascist record.

Still, the lyric’s coldness and sense of despair are kept in check by the song’s structure (it moves from G in the first verse up to A in the second, where it stays for the chorus) and the gorgeousness of the recording. Compare Bowie’s studio demo to the finished track, and you hear how much Bowie, Mick Ronson and producer Ken Scott softened the song: Bowie moderated the harsh acoustic guitar strumming of the demo to a quieter, more intricate performance (for example, Bowie now arpeggiates two lines of the verse), while vibes now accompany Bowie’s guitar from the start. Ronson’s string arrangement and Rick Wakeman’s piano alternate in providing counter-melodies in the verse and in linking choruses and verses together.

Hunky Dory was Scott’s first job as a solo producer, and he would stay on to produce most of Bowie’s glam-era records (the two had only a professional relationship, with Bowie later describing Scott as being a “suit and tie” type who went home to his wife every night). Scott was part of the generation of producers who had cut their teeth at Abbey Road under the Beatles and George Martin (along with Alan Parsons, Geoff Emerick, Chris Thomas). He had just come off George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, which he engineered under Phil Spector, and took from that record the Spectorian trick of massively overlaying instruments (both live in the studio and via overdubs)—so there are something like seven acoustic guitars alone on “Quicksand.”
Recorded June-August 1971 (the studio demo was included on the Ryko reissue of Hunky Dory). Bowie played “Quicksand” as part of a medley in 1973, and then retired it for over two decades until 1997, when he recorded a new version for the BBC and began performing it on stage again.

*Like everyone else, I’ve assumed the “Garbo” referenced in the lyric is Greta, but Wikipedia, citing a Mojo article that I’ve not read, says that it’s actually a reference to the WWII British double-agent Juan Pujol, code-name Garbo. If true, this wins the most obscure reference to date in Bowie’s catalog.
Top: Sean Hickin, “Mouth organist, Tottenham Court Rd., ca. 1971.”

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Rest in peace, David. We miss you.

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1701.12 -  10:10 (for Mom)

NOTE ON WHY THE DAILY BOWIE IS NO LONGER DAILY: For 53 days, I completed daily Bowie posts. My schedule is too demanding to make a post every day, so this will now be a feature that is called The Daily Bowie, but it will not be daily. I will post as I can. I will post often. But if I miss a day, I will skip it. Otherwise, I get in the position of making five Bowie posts all in one day, and that's a lot of Bowie for people to swallow all at once... (yeah, leaving that badly phrased, innuendo packed statement. I bet Bowie would have laughed at it).
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