Tag Archives: Bruce Springsteen

This is our last dance. (Remembering David Bowie.)

24 Jan

Bowie, 87

David Bowie’s music was the first I listened to in my childhood days – next to Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Michael Jackson and Wham. In the poppish 80’s, it took me a couple of years to fully explore his classic earlier work – but once I got to the Berlin trilogy of LowHeroes and Lodger and the Soul Train era of Young Americans I was never the same.

A big fan in my childhood / early teen days, I so badly wanted to visit Bowie’s Hamburg concert of the ‚Glass Spider Tour‘ promoting the Never let me down album (which I’m apparently one of the few to like until this day) in 1987, but my mother thought I was too young to join the masses. So I stood with my parents in Hamburg’s central park, yelling my heart out, while I couldn’t attend my first concert ever.

Nine years later, I finally got to watch Bowie in 1996 for his Outside tour. It wasn’t his best performance, but the Bowie magic was around every second. I’m glad I had that one concert. I’m not too fond of his experimental phase in the late 90’s (except for Trip Hop-ish Little Wonder), but I loved the two comeback albums in early 2000’s, Heathen and Reality.

If it hadn’t been for the stroke in 2004, this could have been his „September of my Years“-like decade. When Bowie released his reminiscent Berlin album The Next Day nine years later, I already felt this could be some kind of a closing statement, a retrospective of places and stages in his career. Turns out, the long goodbye started there. While going all over Bowie’s records over the past 5 decades, these are my eternal #25.

25. Modern Love. 

The opening track from Let’s Dance. Still modern after 33 years.

24. A better Future

Love the hymnic nature of this track from the Heathen album: ‚I demand a better future‘, repeated three times.

23. Golden Years

The most soulful Bowie ever, performing my favorite track from the incredible Station to Station album at Soultrain. Bonus: Superstrange interview at the start.

22. Where are we now

The beginning of the end – the great retrospective of the Berlin years:
„Had to get the train / From Potsdamer Platz / You never knew that / That I could do that / Just walking the dead / Sitting in the Dschungel / On Nürnberger Straße / A man lost in time / Near KaDeWe / Just walking the dead“

21. Blackstar

What to say. It’s almost unreal and very painful to watch (Lazarus is unbearable) – an 10 minute epic that will never be judged on its own but as a post mortem.  It’s a classical Bowie track that rises to epic proportions  between minute 4:20 and 6:30.  This is how resurrections must sound like.

20.  Zeroes

No one ever remembers this persiflage of Heroes for the Never let me down album – but ‚til this day I can’t help liking it as much as Glass Spider (Mummy come back ‚cos the water’s all gone). One the best first lines: „You’ve arrived in the land of a thousand different names…“

19. The Wedding Song

The happiest Bowie I can ever recall – intro and outro on Black Tie, White Noise. I always thought I want to have this track for my weeding – and then I forgot about this one. But not about Bowie! Let’s dance had its special place at our wedding…

18. The Man who sold the world

Rediscovered this gem like so many of us through the Nirvana cover. Original still a class of its own…

17. Something in the Air

Highly underrated cut form the ‚hours‘ album that sounded like an instant classic back 1999.

16. Thursday’s Child

Epic video and best track of the surprisingly smooth structured ‚hours‘ album foreshadowing the one big theme of his last works: aging.

15. Everyone says ‚Hi‘

Another hidden gem from the Heathen album: Love the sentimental, slightly frustrated tone of this one – „Hope the weather’s good / And it’s not too hot / For you /  Everyone says ‚Hi'“

14. Never let me down 

Everyone hates the album, but I don’t agree. At least half of Never let me down offers some of Bowie’s best pop efforts even though this ’87 release had not been nearly als successful as predecessors Tonight and even Let’s dance. Or maybe it’s nostalgia talking: It was the first Bowie album that I impatiently awaited in my teenage days…

13. Sound & Vision

My second missed chance to see Bowie perform in Hamburg: In 1990, Bowie retired his 60’s/70’s back catalogue with this ‚Greatest Hits‘ tour. Tickets sold out in a couple of minutes, though. What stuck on my mind was this hymnic title track of the Sound & Vision tour – „Blue, Blue, Electric Blue…“

12. Wild is the Wind

Dramatic cover of the 50’s smash by Johnny Mathis and a couple of years later Nina Simone from the fabulous Station to Station album, which contains am extended six minute version – such a beautiful arrangement.

11. Buddha of Suburbia

Highly underrated soundtrack song in the summer I graduated. Never watched the movie, but always remember the killer line ‚Can’t tell the bullshit form the lies‘. Lenny Kravitz playing the guitar on this one, btw…

10. Absolute Beginners

One of those first five Bowie songs I listened to when I was a kid. I remember listing to this nonstop on a Hitachi tape recorder while being in hospital. By the time I got out, I was know by the doctors and nurses as ‚the Bowie Kid‘

9. Ashes to Ashes

I was too young for this, but MTV made me catch up quickly – and love this track instantly. Plus: It made more curious about that Junkie Major Tom…

8. Young Americans

My favorite from Bowie’s Soultrain era in New York around the time I was born. This track features two historic performances. One with Cher…

…and the other featuring a background singer, that should turn into of the biggest voices of R&B: That’s right, the first guy in the right corner is no one else but Luther Vandross…

7. Little Wonders

The most modern track in the Top Ten – Bowie discovered Trip Hop and Dub in the mid 90’s. I always thought this one should have been in Trainspotting.

6.  Underground

One of my childhood anthems and first vinyl records.  I was 11 or 12 when it came out along with the Labyrinth movie – which even at that time I found a little weird set-up. (Thanks for reminding, BuzzFeed.)

5.  Heroes 

One of the big epics. I still remember watching „Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo“ in biology class as a preventing example for drug abuse – and defending Bowie to the teacher after confronting the class with Bowie’s own history of drug abuse.  The things you do for your childhood heroes.

4. This is not America

The very first Bowie track to I remember. I  tried to figure out the title and singer for a year or so when being 10 or 11.

3. Let’s Dance

The epic of all epics. This was my favorite track for years and the one big reason I became such a Bowie fan in the 80’s – for all the wrong reasons die-hards of the 70’s might argue. But what gives: I discovered the Golden Years later.

2.  Space Oddity

Like the ultimate Bowie anthem, which I really enjoyed rather late. But the more I do by know. One of the best records of all times. Timeless and pure.

1.  Under Pressure

Still, this one beats everything – even though I was at no time a fan of Queen nor Freddie Mercury. Next to Let’s dance this is the quintessential pop record as Slate pointed out – with the best finish in pop history ever:
This is our last dance.
This is ourselves.

RIP, Starman.
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A Short Story about my Bike.

15 Aug

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This is my Bike. It’s a Raleigh, a mountain bike. It’s the oldest item in my life that I still use on a regular basis, it’s older than my oldest Mac – and I bought 6 Macs over the last 20 years. I got my Raleigh in 1995 for approximately 1500 DM. There’s still a sticker on the Bike: Zweiradhaus Ehrig. It dates back to the days of double digit postal codes: 2000 Hamburg 67.

I rode 10,000s of kilometers all over Germany and it still makes me tremendously happy to feel the warm breeze through my hair when riding on rare, real summer days like these lately. I feel alive. Precisely, there are few things in life that bring me so much joy. It’s a pure kind of joy you know from your childhood days.

I tend to forget about the joy that riding my Bike brings, though, in the cold winters and autumn season, but once the real summer takes over there’s almost nothing like taking a 50+ km kilometer ride along Elbe River or through the countless green valleys, incredible nature parks, forests and creeks that make Hamburg such a special city.

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I ride. And I still love the sound of a clicking pedal as if it was the first time.  A great ride is like a great trip. Holidays for a day. It’s the best travelling ever. You see so many things passing you by. It clears your mind. Quite often, I get new ideas on the Bike.  After a 4-5 hours of riding, you feel like you have achieved something.

We have come a long way together. My Bike has seen the good times, when you felt you never wanted to touch the handlebars again, the happy times, it has seen the bad times as well, the ugly times when I kept going for hours in the rain, just kept riding without a goal, without a route, just to get away. Moving is living, you know.

It has always been that way: I kept on floating, exploring, not knowing where things will lead me – quite often like in life itself. My happinest rides where in pre-iPhone age. You start, you follow your guts, you don’t know where it takes you, there was no Google Maps on your mobile before 2007, just your inner-GPS – and that didn’t even fail in the darkest forests of Bavaria.

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My Bike is a lot like me. We ride. We fail. We turn. We ride again. I’ve discovered almost everything in Hamburg through my Bike, and probably the beauty of this discovery kept me ‚til this day from taking a driver’s license. (I even wear for some very un-German reasons a jersey of Discovery Channel, but that’s a different story and the 2003 Tour de France plays a major role in it – see below.)

I guess, I must be considered a difficult Biker. I mostly like to bike alone at my own pace. I never bike for things to the next supermarket. I never bike 5 km to meet friends. I ride tours – or I don’t ride at all.  I don’t consider my bike a Fortbewegungsmittel, a vehicle – it’s rather a travel companion. Like in so many other times in life, I’m all or nothing when it comes to biking. Meaning: A full packed 40+ km km tour or nothing at all. I don’t get a kick out of cruising along the Alster at runner’s pace. In the end, a great ride is an adventure. I always felt that way.

The last summer before moving out I spent with my brandnew Raleigh at Tunneltal, which is kind of an inside thing and you will not find in a travel guide. It has its own magic if you grew up in the area of North-East Hamburg.  Of course, my Bike took me countless times all along the Elbe where I still prefer meandering through the Vier- und Marschlande at the lower part, starting at Mittlerer Landweg, than taking a ferry over at the other end and crusing through Das Alte Land.

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My favorite ride, though, is always the one home through the underrated North-East of Hamburg where I grew up: starting at the Ohlsdorf cementary – Europe’s biggest park cemetery actually –, rolling all along the Alsterwanderweg heading in a big circle to the Alster spring bordering to Schleswig-Holstein, ending at Volksdorf. Or even better: Taking the high road from down South up North starting from Bergedorf along the Bille through the grove ‚til Reinbek, Glinde, Stellau and Stapelfeld, returning home via Rahlstedt.

When riding through kilometer-long wheat fields accompanied by the chirping cicadas, I feel like in a Springsteen song: With a wide open Country in my Eyes. And these romantic Dreams in my Head.  In the end, nostalgia always gets me. There is no feeling like coming home.

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For quite some time I wanted to trade my Raleigh for a hot, lean, mean Bianchi tracking bike. I was ready to order and spend some 3K on it, but it never happened. One season, my desired model wasn’t available, the other season I moved to Munich.  And then, two years later, I had the crash of my life in the Italian Alps with a rented bike those brakes were as sharp as scissors. It me hit with 40 km/h on a stony path when a dog tried to bite me – panic is always the wrongest impulse.

One stone ended up in my chin, another one in my elbow next to the bone. Until this day, I never knew these different stages pain could bring. I still have the scar on my chin, it’s quite visible until today. ‚Every winner has scars‘, an Austrian friend of mine used to quote on her Facebook. I like that quote.

Speedin'

 

While the crash didn’t kill my passion, it killed kilometers. Like crashes at the stock market, I couldn’t get this thing out of my head. A season later I failed hitting the 1000 km mark which I easily took the last five years. The other season again. The next season I stopped counting. Nowadays, I’m happy for two back-to-back 50 km rides. I get older, you see.

I always dreamed of going up Alpe d’Huez, but once I rode up by car, I knew it would be a dream forever. (It’s ok to leave some dreams for later, I told myself that day.) I never went for the light racing bikes, I was always an explorer, that’s why a mountain bike did it for me. (Hamburg and mountains, you get the idea.)

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That might explain why I was obsessed with mountains. I followed Le Tour, in the heyday of Jan Ullrich and Lance Armstrong. I cheered for Jan, of course, and ‚til this day can’t understand how he lost the Tour in 2003.  With this comeback, Armstrong got me, though: this 15th stage up to Luz Ardiden might be one of the biggest comebacks in sports history.

With Ullrich and Armstrong out, I stopped following. I frankly don’t care about Nibali, Froome, Wiggings or Contador. Four years ago, I finally made it to Champs-Elysées, watching Cadel Evans win his meilleur jaune. While I didn’t care much about Evans either, it felt good finally visiting the last meters of Le Tour that once meant so much to me.

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But my love for biking and my Bike has never vanished. For me, to some extent, biking is living. You see: My Raleigh has never disappointed me. About whom can you say that after 20 years?

The Boss in Vienna.

12 Jul

„The Summer’s here and the Time is right…“ – Bruce Springsteen, Racing in Streets.

Update, July 24th: „WE ARE ALIVE – Springsteen at Sixty-Two“: Superamazing in-depth coverage of Bruce Springsteen in this week’s edition of The New Yorker. After reading the 17 pages, I feel even more privileged to have seen The Boss rock Vienna for 4 hours one more time with the (almost) original E-Street band line-up.

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