The Death Train keeps rolling down the track.
In the beginning rock and roll was defined by strangers–America’s black, hillbilly and urban immigrant populations–trying to find a home. either as audience or performer. By the late sixties it was defined at least as often–on stage and off–by normals pretending to strangeness so they, too, could pretend to be searching for a place to belong.
In the New Age of True Pretend, David Bowie was bound to be king. He’d be whatever you wanted. Space Alien. Buddha Dabbler (later retracted, of course…don’t they always?). Fascist Sympathizer (later retracted, of course…don’t they always?). Gay (except when he was Bi). Bi (except when he was taking a decade off to marry another supermodel). Plastic. Plastique. Eerie. Down-to-Earth. Rubbery Soul-ful. Whatever.
As long as there was only one of him–only one person who could fake it so well it was impossible to tell “it” from the real thing, or one phase of personal “transformation” from another–rock and roll survived, rolled on, even made a place for him. With talent, twas ever thus.
At least in the world Fats and Elvis made.
Eventually, though, he was the new normal. I don’t pretend to know exactly when that happened. Sometime in the eighties probably, along with everything else going to Hell.
But, once it did, whenever it did, the great rock and roll experiment was all over.
As ever, as even with politicians, I don’t blame him for exploiting his seductive strengths.
I blame us for giving in.
And I don’t pretend to know what God thinks.
I do know I absolutely can’t tell this from the real thing…
…and if you tell me you can, I’ll just assume you’re lying.
A-h-h-h-h yes, I can hear his shade now, whispering in my ear, asking me to pass along a final message. What’s that you say?…Oh, yes…
So long suckers!