Knight Of The Mind

I'll do my best to present a philosophical and generally conservative look at current events and life, the universe and everything. Readers are invited to take all that's posted herein with a grain of salt. or if they prefer, a grain of salt, a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Greetings and welcome. My name is Steve, I'm 35 years old and I work for the US Army as an Operations Research Analyst. Hence my blog title Knight Of The Mind.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Ars Vitae I: In Praise of Ziggy Stardust and All of The Spiders From Mars

In my humble opinion a true artist will display almost supernatural talent regardless of what constraints he may encounter as a result of a chosen medium. Hand Pablo Picasso a sheet of paper and a pencil and he'll doodle up a simple drawing called "The Bull" and sell it for 50 Grand. A great musician should be able to perform a similar prestidigitation with a simple suite of instruments to work with.

Modern technology has masked the deficiencies of many modern artists, but it has also given them a homogeneous, canned sound that has stopped being revolutionary and has nearly become corporate, predictable and soporific. Thus it's hard to tell one of these cookie-cutter acts apart form the other.

This phenomenon didn't control the entire popular music industry thirty or so years ago. The musicians lacked the ability to synthesize music or construct musical compositions completely through cross cut editing. When David Bowie released The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars, he and his band mates wrote each and every track. Nearly every one of these tracks sounds uniquely inviting.

The musical lineup remained simple. One keyboard, one bass, a lead guitar, a rhythm guitar and a drum set. Basic instruments without artificial enhancement. The compositions and musical artistry more than compensate for the lack of bells and whistles.

The songs feature carefully integrated lyrics and music. The meter of the lyrics enhances the backbeat and rhythm of the songs. Songs such as "Starman" and "Rock and Roll Suicide" best exemplify this ability.

The songs sound simple and inviting. Like any superior talent, Bowie makes it seem like it would take little effort to emulate. Like watching Ozzie Smith field an impossible ground ball and then throw out the other team's lead-off hitter, anyone who tries this at home soon learns to respect the demands of being that good.

David Bowie took a simple suite of instruments and used basic compositional technique. He worked from first principals. Everything on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars could be played on a home piano without losing too much. These limitations did not prevent him from creating one of the precursor albums that legions of future musicians mention fondly and try their best to emulate.

Bowie's master work remains widely available on the internet. It makes an excellent addition to any rock fan's CD collection. I'll probably listen to it during tomorrow night's jogging session as well.


As you may or may not already be aware, members of the Watcher's Council hold a vote every week on what they consider to be the most link-worthy pieces of writing around... per the Watcher's instructions, I am submitting one of my own posts for consideration in the upcoming nominations process.
Here is the most recent winning council post, here is the most recent winning non-council post, here is the list of results for the latest vote, and here is the initial posting of all the nominees that were voted on.

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