John Lennon released “Imagine” 48 Years Ago Today – Here are cover versions by Neil Young, David Bowie, Elton John and more


Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)

Imagine” (released October 11, 1971) is a song co-written and performed by English musician John Lennon. The best-selling single of his solo career, its lyrics encourage the listener to imagine a world at peace without the barriers of borders or the divisions of religion and nationality and to consider the possibility that the whole of humanity would live unattached to material possessions. Shortly before his death, Lennon said that much of the song’s “lyric and content” came from his wife Yoko Ono, and in 2017, she received a co-writing credit.

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July 11: David Bowie released Space Oddity (single) in 1969 – 50 years ago today

Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
Ground Control to Major Tom (ten, nine, eight, seven, six)
Commencing countdown, engines on (five, four, three)
Check ignition and may God’s love be with you (two, one, liftoff)

…Finally, he teamed up with Elton John producer Gus Dudgeon to create “Space Oddity,” a song he’d been fiddling with all year. The folk ballad about astronaut Major Tom getting stranded in space was rushed out by his label to coincide with the launch of the Apollo 11 moon landing, and the BBC played the song during the coverage of the event. “In England, it was always presumed that it was written about the space landing, because it kind of came to prominence around the same time. But it actually wasn’t,” he told Performing Songwriter. “It was written because of going to see the film 2001, which I found amazing.
rollingstone.com

Single by David Bowie
from the album David Bowie
B-side “Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud”
Released 11 July 1969
Format 7-inch single
Recorded
Genre
  • Psychedelic
  • folk rock
Length 5:15 (album version)
4:33 (UK single edit)
3:26 (U.S. single edit)
Label Philips
Songwriter(s) David Bowie
Producer(s) Gus Dudgeon

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April 24: David Bowie released Diamond Dogs in 1974

When this came out in 1974, it was roundly dismissed as Ziggy Stardust’s last strangled gasp. In hindsight, Diamond Dogs is marginally more worthwhile; its resigned nihilism inspired interesting gloom and doom from later goth and industrial acts such as Bauhaus and Nine Inch Nails.
~Mark Kemp (rollingstone.com in 2004)

All this hopelessness and annihilation would be suffocating if it weren’t for Bowie’s exuberance. He throws himself into Orwell’s draconian hell as if strutting around in Kansai Yamamoto’s Aladdin Sane-era bodysuit; it fits his skeletal contours. Determined to reaffirm his relevance in spite of his setbacks, the singer sparkled so brightly that he offset the darkness of his material. Just as Watergate was coming to a boil, singer-songwriters and prog-rockers were glutting the charts, and ’60s resistance was morphing into ’70s complacency, this sweet rebel (rebel) made revolution strangely sexy again. Glaring at you from Dogs’ cover with canine hindquarters and emaciated features like the circus sideshow Freaks he footnotes in the title cut, he served notice that rock’s outsiders remained more compelling than the softies who increasingly occupied its center, even as his ever-growing popularity chipped away at it. You can bet Patti Smith, the Ramones, and Television sat up and took notes.
-Barry Walters (pitchfork.com)

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March 18: Iggy Pop released The Idiot in 1977

The Idiot is the debut solo album by Iggy Pop. It was the first of two LPs released in 1977 which Pop wrote and recorded in collaboration with David Bowie. Although issued after Low, the opening installment of Bowie’s so-called Berlin Trilogy, the pair began writing and recording songs for The Idiot in mid-1976, before Bowie started work on his own album. As such, The Idiot has been claimed as heralding the unofficial beginning of Bowie’s ‘Berlin’ period, being compared particularly to Low and “Heroes” in its electronic effects, treated instrument sounds, and introspective atmosphere. A departure from the hard rock of his former band the Stooges, the album is regarded by critics as one of Pop’s best works. Its title was inspired by Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot, three of the participants in the recording—Bowie, Pop and Tony Visconti—being familiar with the book. I will argue that there’s really a “Berlin-quintet” consisting of: The Idiot, Low, “Heroes”, Lust for life and Lodger.

Iggy Pop’s The Idiot, is equally a David Bowie album as a guest singer/composer; Davis Bowie co-wrote all the songs (except Sister Midnight that was co-written with Carlos Alomar and David Bowie) , played many of the instruments and produced it (kind of…). Tony Visconti tried to salvage the over-modulated tapes at the mixing stage.

Released March 18, 1977
Recorded July 1976 – February 1977,Château d’Hérouville, Hérouville, France, Musicland Studios, Munich, Hansa by the Wall, Berlin
Genre Post-punk, art rock
Length 38:49
Label RCA
Producer David Bowie (and Tony Visconti)

Funtime:

“Poor Jim, in a way, became a guinea pig for what I wanted to do with sound. I didn’t have the material at the time, and I didn’t feel like writing at all. I felt much more like laying back and getting behind someone else’s work, so that album was opportune, creatively”
– David Bowie

So, Iggy Pop acted as a guinea pig. David Bowie seemed tired of his ever-changing narrative or masks, so he used the opportunity making an Iggy solo record as a way to start re-inventing himself as well as Iggy. Iggy Pop and David Bowie worked extremely well as a team.

Personell:

January 23: David Bowie released Station To Station in 1976

The return of the Thin White Duke
Throwing darts in lovers’ eyes
Here are we, one magical moment, such is the stuff

Station to Station is a collection of soul, rock, funk, and disco, twisted by an influence of experimental German artists. This is David Bowie’s “plastic soul” mixed with krautrock. This is the introduction of the “Thin White Duke”.

It is Bowie’s tenth album, one of his most important and in my opinion, one of his very best!

stationtostation2

David Bowie came from the soul infused “Young Americans” into Nicolas Roeg’s film, “The Man who fell to Earth” (the picture on the cover is a still from the film) and then into this masterpiece of a record. If you see the film and listen to Young Americans you get a sense of what made the album. There is a switch from popular dance oriented music into a more artful approach. But, without losing the pop sensibility. It is also a start for Bowie on his journey back to a more  European approach to his music, even if it was recorded in LA.

“I know it was in LA because I’ve read it was”
– David Bowie

TVC15 (from rehearsals for the Station to Station tour 1976):

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