When you're a hopeless music obsessive some albums become inextricably tied to certain moments of your life and certain people from those days. You listen to the right songs and they become time machines. This is the case even if it's music you've been listening to constantly ever since.
Iggy Pop and David Bowie's 1977 Berlin albums are among my most played, but when I hear them I am still transported to the Chicago apartment I shared with my friend David. Our joke was that he was the rocker and I was the mod, and hence he liked the Iggy albums more and I liked the Bowie albums more. In those days when CDs still ruled the world I had The Idiot, Low and Heroes before we moved in together, bur David completed the collective by buying Lust For Life. I got so used to playing his copy that it took me years to get my own, long after we had gone our separate ways.
I have been thinking a lot about David recently because I have finally started reading Heidegger's Being and Time, a book he had constantly evangelized to me. I would often gently mock him for this, but now that I am finally reading it, I get it. I am a little sad that I didn't him up on it back then. He died nine years ago and isn't around to talk to anymore.
Lust For Life however was something we were able to share together. Being the rocker it's obvious this would be David's pick from the great Berlin records. (He even wore a t-shirt with the album cover on it.) Much of the experimentation brought by Bowie to The Idiot is stripped away and the amps turned up. There are some all-time Pop tracks like the title song and "The Passenger," but plenty of compelling deep cuts, too.
"Success" is my favorite of these because it's just so delightfully silly. There's just a big riff and a catchy call and response structure that gets sillier and jokier as the song goes on. David and I used to love singing responses. We were a goofy lot back then, watching Army of Darkness all the time on VHS and shouting "I'll swallow your soul!" at each other.
If The Idiot is about the long dark midnight of the soul, Lust for Life is the celebration of getting through it and coming out on the other side. This week with my children getting vaccinated I certainly know what that feels like. And when I think about my departed friend and want the memories to make me smile instead of cry, I throw on "Success."
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