FLESH MEETS SPIRIT AS THE
20TH CENTURY DIES
David Bowie knows the ills that flesh is heir to. On the album 1.Outside, we meet the victim Baby Grace. Unlike the sacrificed prey in the song 'Shopping for Girls', she has a Name.
Grace is her name and she becomes an object of our compassion. Like the shorn lamb of 'Betty Wrong', the kiss of the comb tore her face from the bone. Grace was not a martyr. Bowie reveals that neither her flesh nor her spirit was willing.
In the song 'Sex And The Church', on the Buddha Of Suburbia album Bowie confesses the joys of the flesh - the union between Christ and his Bride. Perhaps this is an allusion to the mating of gods and mortals, to how immortals and humans can become one bone and one flesh.
On the albums Black Tie White Noise and Tin Machine, Bowie unveils the same joys in the songs 'Miracle Goodnight' and 'Heaven's In Here', when he recognizes his longings for skin on skin.
In Miracle Goodnight, he inhales the breath of life and removes himself from the jaws of death. He admits that "he just wants a little more". In the song 'Heaven's In Here', he's ready to acknowledge that eternal life lies between marbled thighs.
He takes a swing at the shadows, stumbles, and falls but this is certainly not the old hell of 'The Motel'. This is heaven, the vital spark and flame, the heart and soul of life in the flesh.
On the album Earthling, in the song 'Dead Man Walking', Bowie questions "human disguises", the so called "demons" of heaven and hell and in the passage of time from young boy to old man, he continues to shake his sex and his bones. He insists on remaining in the land of the living. He intends to survive.
In the song 'If I'm Dreaming My Life', on the album 'hours...' Bowie asks "Was It Air She Breathed?" Perhaps dreamlike figures can sustain the spirit, keep the flesh from rotting or perhaps as Bowie suggests in the song 'Seven', the Gods forgot they made us.
By Nevada Kerr
August 24th, 2001.
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