on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2016 16 Jan

Kuchens Glee #2 – Benign, cosmos-changing magic

von: Ian McCartney Filed under: Blog | TB | 1 Comment

A winter’s day, a bitter snowflake on my face …

‚Sell Me A Coat‘ has long been one of my favourite Bowie songs.
Like a lot of Bowie’s coolest stuff, it’s just a pop song.
But then you look at it more closely and it’s a Schneekugel.
(Which I guess is an appropriate seasonal comparison.)

It’s a winter scene, a solitary individual in a winter landscape.
My mind’s eye sees it as a kind of grey urban space like in a Lowry painting.
The song immediately works its magic by fixing itself in time – the bitter snowflake is ultratransience, it will melt or disintegrate in seconds.
And so the song takes place in this most brief sliver of time.

What I like about this is its forlornness – love lost but no anger or reproach, or even much self pity – it’s more just baleful self-analysis.
The language here is just fantastically effective – I really love it, it does what the best lyrics should do.
What should they do, the best lyrics?
Perform benign, cosmos-changing magic, that’s what.

Sell me a coat is an a commercial ‚call to action‘ in reverse.
(Call To Action examples – ‚BUVEZ Coca-Cola‘, ‚Buy Today 10% off‘ etc.)
It’s unclear as to whom is being asked to do the actual selling.
This lack of obvious addressee gives the song’s main refrain a prayerful tinge.
So what we have is a world where polarities have changed.
Warmth has become unwarmth, time has become untime.
It’s almost like something out of the i-Ching.
Fire from the mountain, the eagle circles the summit.
Summer will give way to winter soon and your prize will fly into the blue.
Everything you touch, you change – everything you change, changes you.
The universe is change, our life is what our thoughts make it.
Supreme success if you hold your course.

And of course he has no coat – and therefore is no Joseph.
Asking to be sold a coat.
With patch pockets.
Somewhere to keep your hands warm!
In a jingly song.
A jingly song sounds that like it was recorded in a small room that was virtually opaque with the smoke from Players No 6 cigarettes.

Is this the same guy who ten years later would sing the weird pseudo-Romanian incantations on Warszawa?



This entry was posted on Samstag, 16. Januar 2016 and is filed under "Blog". You can follow any responses to this entry with RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Comment

  1. Michael Engelbrecht:

    If Santa Claus isn’t a negro, this song (never heared before) is also quite whitebread. Lovely and strange.

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