David Bowie “Lodger”

First of all there have been a few changes, since I moved AGAIN and this time I had to give away all but a handful of my records. So no longer am I going through my record collection alphabetically, since my record collection now, such as it is, could fit into a shopping bag. If this sounds sad, it is, but also it’s a new beginning, and thankfully– because of the continued appreciation of vinyl– you can still find records out there. At the rate I’ve been going, anyway, by the time I write about the records I DO have, I’ll have collected a new batch of records to write about.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I think about this record, “Lodger,” for literally a year now. Part of the reason it has taken me so long is that I am never compelled to put it on the turntable. I guess I just don’t like it very much… but the funny thing is really WANT to like it. I feel like there is something there that I’m not grasping, but I don’t know what it is. I think I like this record intellectually, I can appreciate it okay, but I just don’t feel it. I’ll start with the cover, one of those that opens up like a double album, and it’s supposed to look like a big post card, but of course it doesn’t, because it’s the wrong scale, shape, and imagery. This is also one of those covers that you never know if it’s upright or sideways, or how it’s supposed to be looked at. It’s deliberately disorienting… or annoying, depending on your point of view. When it folds out there is a full body image of Bowie with a bandaged hand and his nose crushed like his face is pushed against glass. He looks like he’s either just fallen off a building or has been sucked into the air lock of a spaceship, or maybe he’s been molecularly transferred into an Archies comic in which he’s playing Richard Hell at RIverdale High’s Punk-Themed prom. He’s not dead, he’s just dancing.

The inside cover looks like they realized about two hours before press time that the damn thing opened up and they had to provide some art. What’s laying around here? –some art books, a couple of magazines… There is no sleeve in this particular version, so I don’t know if lyrics accompanied the record. I guess I can look them up online… because I feel like what I’m hearing is kind of confusing. What is it all about? “Fantastic Voyage”– is it about the movie where Raquel Welch and crew are shrunk go inside of someone’s body? It’s a nice pop song, but “Learning to live with somebody’s depression” is not your usual pop chorus. “African Night Flight” has a LOT of words, and he’s saying them REALLY FAST and it is not pleasant. “Move On” sounds like someone galloping on a horse with lots of mentions of exotic places in the world. I guess in keeping with the traveling theme. “Yassassin” is another foreign sounding song with the title chanted before each line. I think it means “I’ll have two eggs over easy and dry toast,” but you can look it up yourself if you want to be sure. Now “Red Sails” is one I’m really curious about. It’s a catchy song, upbeat, with electronic bullshit, something about “The Ponderosa”– no, it’s Thunder Ocean, I’m glad I looked that up. It’s a great image, Red Sails… and I guess it’s based on an old song, “Red Sails in the Sunset.”

Side Two starts with “D.J,” and you have to look to see if you accidentally put on a bad Talking Heads album in all the confusion. This is an annoying song, I’m sorry. “Look Back In Anger” could refer to the movie, or the play, “Look Back In Anger,” but I don’t care enough to try to determine that, mostly because the chorus keeps going “Waiting so long I’ve been waiting so long” which makes me think of all the other terrible pop songs that say “Waiting so long.” “Boys Keep Swinging” has a baseline that could really get in your nightmares. You can’t help listen to this song without envisioning a bawdy gay sailor movie with a line of dancers, pants down to their knees, with choreographed swinging prosthetic elephant sized cocks. “Repetition” is then a relief, until its relentless dissonant droning about Johnny who can’t cook and other tales of domestic unpleasantry, “Red Money” sounds just like that other Bowie song, I can’t remember which one… or maybe it’s this one… there’s a line about Comedy Central, and really no connection, that I can tell, to “Red Sails.”

So, amazingly, I warmed up to this record in the process of actually getting around the writing about it. The sad thing, however, is now I’ve switched back to cold indifference. That’s the way it goes with me and Lodger. Oh, also, no discussion of this record would be complete without a mention of Brian Eno.


4 Responses to “David Bowie “Lodger””

  1. 1 jc
    April 22, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I was going to discuss this record, but you mentioned Brian Eno, so I guess the discussion is complete. Anyhow, I’ve never even heard this record, so probably anything I say would be irrelevant anyway; however, I would like to say that I always thought that was someone else on the cover of this record — is it really David Bowie? I always assumed it was just some anonymous accident victim photo. It sounds like you don’t like this record very much, so I feel somewhat justified in never having heard it, not that that needs any justification. Speaking of mentioning Brian Eno, which should actually be a prerequisite for completing *any* discussion, I can still only listen to the first side of Bowie’s LOW album, because side 2 just makes me want to drown myself, which is maybe what it was meant to do.

  2. April 23, 2012 at 5:19 am

    Yeah, it could be someone else, like with the Tom Waits “Raindogs” album, I always thought it was Tom Waits on the cover, but it’s not. It’s odd to put someone who resembles you on your album cover, or even a photograph of someone else. Like Sinatra would’t put a picture of Elisha Cook, Jr. on his album cover. Though wikipedia (which isn’t necessarily the last word on everything) says it is Bowie, and some of the photos on the inside are the makeup session. So that makes a little more sense, except for the Omega watch ad.

    I thought for the longest time that Brian Eno did not exist, and maybe it was just a name for a brand new computer or synthesiser some of those guys were using at the time. When I first heard of him he was only referred to as ENO. So I was thinking maybe it was like the HAL computer in 2001. Later they added the name “Brian” to try to humanize him– it still sounds like a joke to me. And I’m still not convinced he’s a person. I’ve seen pictures of him but immedialty forgot what they looked like. If I met him in person today, I might still think it could be an actor hired to “be” Brian Eno.

  3. 3 Christy Crutcher
    July 19, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    No guys, this was a real picture of him, his real name was Thomas Lee Ashby, I am his daughter :). The hair was real. Look me up on fb, I am listed as Christy Jones 🙂

  4. 4 Dayna Marano
    March 25, 2013 at 5:29 am

    n 1975, Bowie achieved his first major American crossover success with the number-one single “Fame” and the hit album Young Americans, which the singer characterised as “plastic soul”. The sound constituted a radical shift in style that initially alienated many of his UK devotees. He then confounded the expectations of both his record label and his American audiences by recording the minimalist album Low (1977)—the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno over the next two years. This so-called “Berlin Trilogy” albums all reached the UK top five and received lasting critical praise.


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