Translation from B.T. on the 7th of December 1999
(Eksklusivt interview: David Bowie - en lykkelig legende):
THE HAPPY LEGEND
Exclusive Interview by Steffen Jungerson
Bowie to B.T. on need for psychiatric help and mid-life crisis when in his twenties, chaos as a creative process, and the joy he is experiencing at 52.
"Hello, Steffen, I'm so pleased to meet you!" Okay, so maybe he does say that to all of them, I know that. But on this the Mother of all Mondays in Copenhagen - wet, grey and raw - it still warms the cockels of one's old ticker that a smiling, pleasant and high-spirited David Bowie makes a virtue of sounding like he means it as he reels off the above greeting.
The 52-year old legend radiates happiness with enough strength that a power failure in the "Roger Moore-suite" at the Hotel d'Angleterre in Copenhagen which is where we find ourselves would be unlikely to cause any significant diminution of light.
Consequently, there is nothing for it but to ask Bowie whether he had to simulate a midlife crisis when he wrote the songs for his new album, 'hours...'. For they are songs of loss, sorrow and seeking as these would be experienced by a man in his fifties.
Many Midlife Crises
"I've actually had quite a few midlife crises. Most of them when I was in my twenties," laughs David Bowie.
"It wasn't a particularly happy time of my life. I worked very intensively, but despite my success at the time I was despondent and condemning of myself for several years, at the same time as I was very introverted and closed as a person.
"I was very shy as a teenager, and it followed me into my adult life. So crazily I found myself drawing on my experiences from that time when I wanted to write an album on my present age."
Forced to Socialise
"In turn I have now come out on the other side of the tunnel and have become a social creature, which is the last thing I would have wanted to be then. Probably largely because my wife (model Imam [sic!], ed.) forced me. You know: 'David, you are going to have to say something - the person sitting next to you at the dinner party would like to talk - and instead you sit all evening staring at the soup tureen.'" (laughter.)
"Okay, so I'm exaggerating, but the last twelve years of my life have been really productive for me and I could wish for nothing better. My work has been satisfactory, my friendships are firm, and my wife... I love her, I love her, I love her 'till the the day I die!'"
Do you think that the crises in your earlier life were caused by your being promoted to an icon or a legend too early in life?
"No, 'cause I know other so-called icons who have dealt with that status quite well. To be honest I was probably in need of psychiatric help. I had incredibly low self esteem which drove me to constantly try to improve what I was doing, and still I had this constant feeling of failure. I was constantly - CONSTANTLY - about to give up hope with regard to what I was doing. And I should probably have been like that no matter what I'd chosen to work with, for I see the same fault in many of my relatives."
Willing to Take the Trouble
And the fact that many of the records you made at the time, during the 70's, were highly acclaimed didn't help?
"Not at the time, no. Today it makes me both happy and conceited (laughter) that much of what I did then has made a difference to how music sounds and looks today. It is great for morale and very good for my ego."
Then again, the trail-blazing albums have also raised expectations so that it is now almost expected of you that you reinvent the wheel every time.
"Well, those are the parameters I've set for myself, and I am perfectly willing to take the trouble that follows from that. I've tried not to be loyal to any genre at all, but still have a purpose with what I do.
"You see, I like the idea of being the product of a pluralist community, to represent the fact that the Universe is built on chaos. That is the background to our existence, and I would like to take that one step further and make it part of my creative process."
Does Not Mind Failures
"That again entails that I must accept the fact that I shan't ever find what other musicians probably strive for: That fail-safe formula that says: This is what I do and I'll do it perfectly. There is nothing I can do perfectly, so I cannot help making a lot of spectacular flops, but in between something really good will turn up, too. But I feel fine about that. Believe me."
In case any of the readers have spent the past month or so in a deep-freezer in Kasakhstan, David Bowie will be giving an "intimate" concert in Vega in Copenhagen tonight.
The concert sold out in just one minute 55 seconds, and the 1,500 lucky ticket-holders have something to look forward to. Bowie is no longer afraid of playing the old songs, the very ones that he swore he had played for the last time with the "Serious Moonlight" tour in 1990 [sic!].
Sings the Old Songs Today
"The booking agents find me perverted, because I play the old songs - like "Changes" which I haven't played for the past twelve years - NOW that I'm playing small venues, while I haven't done so at stadium concerts in years," chuckles David.
"It is alarming how I enjoy playing the old songs again, for I was determined never to do so again. It was driving me insane, singing them in the old days. And being a musician myself, I can sense when some of my colleagues just wade through their shows and don't really want to sing this or that song.
"I never want my audience to feel that. So even when they totally disagree with me on the choice of songs that I've made for a concert, at least they know that I sing them with enthusiasm, and I believe my audience is capable of picking up that enthusiasm and using it for themselves."
Read the review of David's concert in Vega in B.T. tomorrow.
Bowie-concert on the Net tonight. Here is the good news of the day. For those of you who are not to see David Bowie in Vega tonight, that is. Tonight at four o'clock there is a chance to watch a concert with "The Thin White Duke" over the Internet. The concert was recorded in very intimate surroundings at The Kit Kat Klub in New York on the 19th of November this year. So rise early or stay up late and go to the address www.blueconcerts.com. signed: JHS
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