12 Days of Bowie #5. Sarah Hill: Who Will Connect Me with Love?

Friday, 9 December 2016

Who will connect me with love?

 

It was probably the suit that did it. Let’s Dance had just come out and I was working my way through Bowie’s back catalogue, hitting the albums in between the ones I already knew. I was sitting on the floor, reading about Bowie’s dark years just before he went off to Berlin. In the fan bio I was reading, Bowie talked about his ‘suicide note to the world’ – the title track of Station to Station, one of those albums I didn’t know.

 

So I went to Rasputin’s Records in Berkeley and picked up a copy. And it was such a stark thing –  black and white and red, no spaces between the words – with just six songs. I already knew two of them, and I’d seen the video for a third. That’s half an album done before I even got to the turntable. So I dropped the needle on side 1, track 1, and went back to that glossy fan bio I was reading. And then I saw him: the Thin White Duke in that amazing suit.

 

I listened a little more closely to what he was singing, at those vowels he was stretching out from between his teeth, at the juddering guitars propelling him onward. The teenage me reveled in the bleakness of it all, at the full-throated expansiveness – and at the image of Bowie in that suit. Station to Station resonated differently with me than any of the other Bowie albums I discovered in the summer of 1983, and for all the millions of times I’ve listened to it since then, it still thrills me. You may doubt those listening figures – I may be more of a musicologist than a mathematician – but yes, millions of times.

 

And maybe it’s all just about that suit: a stark beauty, the perfect black-and-white distillation of the perfect black-and-white album. Just check out that picture of Bowie as archer, drawing his bow taut. He doesn’t look like Cupid in that suit, but the action and intent are the same. Love me, love me, love me, love me say you do. Hope someone takes after me. Lord I kneel and offer you my word on a wing. Who will connect me with love? Drawing that bow in the desperate belief that love and protection and comfort and faith will return.

Dr Sarah Hill 

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