Pushing ahead of the dame

It just so happens that IMHO, the two greatest musicians of the twentieth century, have the best blogs dedicated to their remarkable work. Louis Armstrong has Ricky Riccardi batting for him — someone whose praises I have repeatedly sung. Now I know that the other artist I refer to may seem a world apart but they are, at least for me, the bookends to 20th Century “popular” music. The other blog, as per the title of this post, called Pushing Ahead of the Dame, is dedicated to Bowie — the man behind it, Chris O’Leary. The blog could have been named after any number of Bowie phrases/titles, but this improbable choice denotes a blog that is very serious in the sense of being analytical, critical, well-researched, insightful, and of course very affectionate and funny. Before talking further about “Dame” a quick observation: “Pops” and Bowie are the only two artists who can so easily, plausibly and unmawkishly (unlike the “Killer” — bless!) be self-referential. Moreover, LA and DB are to my mind the only musicians whose catalog can offer up a great piece for whatever is happening in the world (a la a G. K. Chesterton quote). People with a casual interest in LA and DB may well just enjoy the blogs wherever one may care to dive into — with respect, it’s akin to the best toilet reading. Ricky’s book deals with Pops’ later years — it brought a tear to my eye. As someone who was at ground zero for TRAFOZSATSFM I’ve just gingerly reentered Heathen territory (2002) via DB’s charming “by request” show. The irony is that once the musical genius had ended (let’s be frank, in 1980), DB finally became comfortable in his own skin (he was always insightful, very very funny and well-mannered — even in a snowstorm). Now if you appreciate Ricky’s and Chris’ blogs, buy their books so that they can keep doing what they do — amuse me. Here is a brief interview with Chris. Of course, inevitably Chris is asked what his Bowie “Desert Island Disks” would be: “Ugh. Okay, but this is as of this morning and will likely change tomorrow”. Indeed! So here are my eight choices (in no particular order) and with links to Chris’ entries:

1) Moonage Daydream

2) Subterraneans

3) Lady Grinning Soul

4) Sweet Thing — Candidate — Sweet Thing (reprise)

5) Ashes to Ashes

6) The Width of a Circle

7) Station to Station

8) Changes