The Pages Behind the Artists: Billy Liar (Bowie 2 of 100)

Waterhouse, Keith. Billy Liar. London: Michael Joseph. 1959

 

Billy Liar is a nonsensical slice of life demonstrating the indecision surrounding the expectations and responsibilities encountered by the youth of the lower middles class. It lays open the bleak hopelessness of lateral movement and the tedious repetition of cultural and political history.

I do not know at what part in Bowie's life he encountered this book, but I cant help but wonder if, as a youth and then as an advertising agent, this book echoed his feelings on the hollowness of that existence and the need to create or "art" that our comicly inclined, hyperly imaginative "hero" so aptly demonstrated. It is a very thin line that separates escapism and artistic manifestation.

 

Bonus review

 

Doggett, Peter. The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie and the 1970s. New York: Harper Collins, 2012

 

An in depth analysis of every track written, recorded or produced by David Bowie during the 1970s, Handled in chronological order, each track is discussed musically, specifically structure, influences and style, and contextually. With almost 200 hundred songs, the variety of emotion and societal commentary expressed is staggering. The relevance of his songs, 40 years later, speaks to his understanding of the human condition and the highs and lows universally experienced. Of particular interest were some unfinished projects that were absorbed into later albums, especially an unfinished show based on 1984. 

The inclusion of several short essays on the importance and influence of his albums adds layers of appreciation for Bowie's work, and compounds the relevance it has in today's world.

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