Alyson’s Archive #9 – David Bowie, Six Years Gone and ‘Sorrow’

Welcome to this occasional series where I share the contents of my archive box of teenage memorabilia. I always knew these random bits and pieces would come in handy some day, but little did I think back in the 1970s, they would find their way onto such a thing as a ‘blog’, courtesy of that as yet unthought of invention, the world wide web.

I got a little badge this week from the WordPress people as it was my blog’s 6th birthday. It’s not difficult to forget when that anniversary comes around as I posted my first set of ‘memories’ the day we heard of the death of David Bowie. Six years already though – Hard to believe, on either score. Time perhaps to delve back into my box of teenage memorabilia and it didn’t take long to find something of interest.

Back in 1973 I often bought pop magazines aimed at teenage girls and one of these was Hit (note the star instead of the dot – an often used graphics ploy back in those days). What a diverse group of artists (and tennis players!) mentioned on the cover, but we were also invited to David Bowie’s exclusive party which was apparently being held to mark his farewell to pop performances. Well, we all know how that turned out, but in July ’73 he had abruptly retired the character Ziggy Stardust during a show at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, so maybe more to do with temporary burnout. To quote David, “Ziggy wouldn’t leave me alone for years. That was when it all started to go sour. My whole personality was affected. It became very dangerous. I really did have doubts about my sanity.”

Does anyone recognise the woman with David?

I love reading these snippets from the past as they are exactly that, primary sources, written at the time. Interesting to hear who was at the party and of the marriages that were in place at the time. Mick Jagger had come out top on the dance floor apparently which has held him in good stead as he is still performing those moves on stage today. On the menu were such culinary delights as smoked salmon, turkey and strawberries and cream – We were easily pleased back then it seems as the era of the ‘foodie’ and the celebrity chef was still a long way off.

1973 was an incredibly busy year for David Bowie and at one point he had six albums concurrently in the UK Albums Chart. It had been ‘his time’. Got me to thinking about how I consumed this wealth of Bowie goodness back then and it didn’t take long for me to remember that my 1972 Christmas present (from Santa) was a Murphy cassette recorder – For soon-to-be-teens like myself, the affordability of these machines changed our lives. When visiting some of the music blogs written by Americans, like Rich from KamerTunesBlog, I am constantly amazed how many albums they owned by the time they were out of single digits. As a family we certainly weren’t poor, but my pocket money at that time wouldn’t have extended beyond the odd single, or a compilation album bought with birthday or Christmas money. Having my own cassette player/recorder (emphasis on the recorder) changed all that, and unbelievably I still have the operating instructions for it in my box of memorabilia. By the time we got to September 1973 when his ‘farewell party’ (got to laugh, but not like a gnome) took place, I would have been able to tape four of his chart singles from that year already.

But as we all know, he didn’t retire from pop performances in 1973 but continued to reinvent himself every few years, always coming up with a new persona and style of music. I’ve done a fair bit of reading about him this week and am starting to wonder if we will ever see his like again as he was also an actor of renown, an artist and so much more.

Got me to thinking about the many albums he made during the period 1969 to 1984 when I would have been following his music more than I would have done in his later years. Would I be able to put them in order of release if I tested myself. Here they are in a random layout – How would you do? (Answer in the Postscript.)

But my goodness we’ve come a long way with this one and still no song. Since the magazine article above was from 1973 I think it’ll have to be something from that year. As I’ve already shared The Jean Genie and Life On Mars? on the blog, here is Sorrow from later on in 1973, taken from the Pinups album featuring songs by British bands from the 1960s that influenced David as a teenager. The song was first recorded by the McCoys in 1965, and then by the Merseys in 1966. David’s version reached the No. 3 spot on the UK Singles Chart in Oct 1973. If you watch the clip to the end, there’s a bit of a funny out-take.

Sorrow by David Bowie:


What’s your favourite album of those shown above? As ever, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time…

Sorrow Lyrics
(Song by Richard Gottehrer/Jerry Goldstein/Bob Feldman)

With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue
The only thing I ever got from you
Was sorrow sorrow
You acted funny
Trying to spend my money
You’re out there playing your high-class games of sorrow sorrow

You never do what you know you ought to
Something tells me you’re a Devil’s daughter
Sorrow, sorrow
Ah, ah, ah

I tried to find her
Cause I can’t resist her
(I tried to find her)
I never knew just how much I missed her sorrow sorrow

With your long blonde hair and your eyes of blue
The only thing I ever got from you
Was sorrow sorrow

Oh-oh-oh-oh
Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh

With your long blonde hair
I couldn’t sleep last night
With your long blonde hair

Ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah, oh, yeah
Ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah, oh, yeah

Postscript:

Easy for Bowie fans but for the rest of us here is the order of David’s studio album releases.

M. David Bowie (1969)
I. The Man Who Sold the World (1970)
N. Hunky Dory (1971)
H. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
I. Aladdin Sane (1973)
D. Pin Ups (1973)
K. Diamond Dogs (1974)
J. Young Americans (1975)
O. Station to Station (1976)
B. Low (1977)
F. “Heroes” (1977)
A. Lodger (1979)
C. Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980)
E. Let’s Dance (1983)
G. Tonight (1984)

For any of you who also remember with great fondness the analogue world of cassette recorders, here are some pages from my little manual of operating instructions. Happy days.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

22 thoughts on “Alyson’s Archive #9 – David Bowie, Six Years Gone and ‘Sorrow’”

  1. Hi Alyson, I’ll come back to the post to read and comment more fully but a quick answer to your question – who is that with David in that great pic? – Mr SDS has just identified her as Jean Millington, bass player, one of the Millington sisters from the band Fanny.
    More soon…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dead heat between Hunky Dory and Low for me … or has been until last year.
    Station To Station – an album I largely ignored in the past is creeping it’s way towards the top.
    It’s not part of the feted Berlin Trilogy, but is (I think) a prequel.
    And (weirdly, cos no-one else seems to rate it) I’d put Tonight above both Let’s Dance and Scary Monsters.
    At the other end of the table, Young Americans is bottom of the pile for these cloth ears

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t profess to be an expert but like you my affection for a particular album changes with time, which is a good thing – With the albums above there seemed to be about three in a row then everything changed for him again (and the hairstyle).

      Thanks for the feedback – It’ll be interesting to hear what people say.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks – As you said it’s the first five years that are the hardest, then it’s a dawdle. Well, maybe not, but I’m still here.

      Think that’ll be a popular choice. Mr WIAA’s favourite as well.

      Like

    1. Thanks. Hope I can keep going for a while yet.

      So it’s a vote for Ziggy Stardust… for you. Interestingly, my sister-in-law got a new dog last year and named him Ziggy Stardust (Ziggy for short) – What can I say, she is a few years older than me and was a big fan of David back then.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy 6th birthday to WIAA and long may you continue.
    Love that article, and the Sorrow clip with Amanda Lear’s outtake and your cassette manual (amazing that you still have it – but it looked so familiar, very similar to the first portable one I remember from my youth too). Bowie was just one of those people the like of whom I doubt we’ll see again in the music business, and I know that makes me sound old and stuck and cynical, but whilst there are some fantastic, individual and talented artists and there always will be, they can never be quite as groundbreaking as those who’ve gone before.
    As for a favourite album from the selection – I’ve pondered this all day and I can’t decide! My shortlist would include Aladdin Sane (the first I ever heard due to my sister buying it, very much a part of my childhood, with many evocative memories attached) alongside Ziggy Stardust (just because… well, it’s so familiar, so ingrained) and Hunky Dory (I played this to death in my teens, in the sanctuary of my bedroom during hard and weird times at home, and love the changes in mood throughout). A top three is the best I can do!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Again, I’m guessing those were his teenage years. As I said to Lynchie above, my sister-in-law has named her new dog Ziggy as she was such a fan of Bowie in her teenage years. She is now 65.

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    1. It is weird looking back at what was written about an event from nearly 50 years ago, knowing what we know now. It’s like the wordy equivalent of a photograph. I had to do a bit of research into Amanda Lear after watching that outtake at the end of the clip. The lady from the Roxy Music album cover of course and quite a life by the sound of it.

      It was an amazing time the early 70s wasn’t it and I can’t see anything changing quite so fast again. We suddenly all had colour telly so we could enjoy the colour and spectacle of the glam rock era, and then we had these new recording devices which meant we had access to so much more music than before. As for Bowie, he really was groundbreaking and the more I read about him, the more I am bowled over by his incredible volume of output over the decades – All just so creative.

      Those early albums seem to resonate most with those of us of a certain age. Is it back to that old chestnut, the music you listened to in your teens means far more to you in later life than music you listen to in your 20s/30s and beyond? Who knows but I really liked looking at all those album covers seeing the changing face of Bowie over the years. What a body of work (and that was just up to 1984).

      Thanks for the birthday wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Didn’t expect Pin-Ups but thanks for the feedback. I can’t say I was ever an uber-fan but Bowie does seem to have popped up around here a lot as he was just always there from the time I really started to take an interest in music. I’ve written about songs from just about all the eras above and find myself warming now to ‘late 70s/early 80s Bowie most.

      Like

  4. Ah yes: colour TVs, a plethora of weekly pop magazines, new fangled cassette players and a Bowie LP every year – my 1970s in a nutshell. As well as his own prolific output, let’s not forget that in that one frantic year of 1972, Bowie also found the time to produce seminal albums for Mott the Hoople, Iggy & the Stooges and Lou Reed. An astonishing work rate.

    It’s impossible to name just three favourite Bowie LPs from this period, as they’re wont to change as quickly as my mood, but Hunky Dory is always, always in the mix. You never forget your first love do you?

    Happy 6th to the good ship WIAA – long may she sail.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those of us who are the same age all have those memories and will never forget the coming of colour telly and the explosion of glam rock. My teenage years would have been much the poorer had it not been for that cassette recorder and probably why I can still remember most chart hits from the early 70s (as I taped them every Sunday and then played them all week).

      Hunky Dory seems to be in most people’s top three. He certainly had an incredible work rate getting involved in other’s records as well but that carried on it seems right until the end, with that final album released two days before his death. I really don’t think there will be anyone quite like him again – The industry is so different now and he really was one of a kind.

      Like

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