Chameleon or Innovator?
There are several reasons that Bowie didn’t do better in Pazz & Jop rankings [“David Bowie vs. Pazz & Jop,” Voice, January 13]. One is that [Robert Christgau] wasn’t a big fan. Of course, that’s a rather solipsistic way of looking at the question, so how about this: At any given moment, at any particular phase of his artistic career, it always seemed (to me at least) that there were other artists that had arrived where Bowie was just a little bit ahead of him.
Bowie himself tended to appear as more of a reflection of what was happening in popular music than an actual inventor. The expression “chameleonlike” has always seemed to me a more apt description of Bowie than “innovator” — like the changeable lizard, Bowie became the color of his background.
If Marc Bolan was outrageous and glittery, Bowie was more so; if funk was what was called for, David would funk it up. Low is as good an Eno album as Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), and so on.
There is nothing wrong with that — the argument can be made that this is exactly what great artists do — they embody the zeitgeist. Bowie’s greatness was not that he was an innovator, although he was certainly an original character himself.
This is not to say that Bowie didn’t produce memorable music, but to an audience of critics a record like, say, Diamond Dogs is not going to seem as remarkable as it might to the rock ‘n’ roll public at large.
— William Altreuter, via Facebook
Beatles Got Talent
The problem with pop stars nowadays is that they depend on their producers and other songwriters too much [“Poptimism Isn’t the Problem,” Voice, January 13]. It is true the Beatles played to screaming girls, but even then, they could already write and play their own songs.
— Taiyo Sawada, via Facebook
Refreshing Old Voice
Well hello, Michael. It’s so nice to have you back where you belong [“My Second Fifteen Minutes,” Voice, January 13]! Thank you, VV! Reading Michael’s musings is like a nice, long drink of cold water after living over a Los Angeles freeway for too many years.
— June Gable, via Facebook
Tell Us How You Really Feel…
The MTA sucks [“The MTA’s Promised Upgrades Won’t Make Your Commute Easier,” Voice, January 20]. They take big money in and do nothing to improve shit — in fact they make it worse. They hike up prices and the sheep take it quietly, as always (or they just bitch about it, uselessly, on the internet).
— Antonio Deckard Gamboa