Speed of Life


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Fun story: I used to have this soneg set as my ringtone, back when everyone spent an inordinate amount of time picking out customized ringtones. It did not ruin the joy of the song for me, because not very many people ever called my phone. It is, in fact, kind of a nice memory, though it dates me as a millennial. Another thing that strikes me, as a millennial: how this kind of shimmering instrumental soundscape, which sounds like it should have come entirely out of a computer, is made entirely of real instruments. David Bowie, of course, did not have the millennial luxury of composing on a laptop in his bedroom. He had to actually leave the house and do his work in collaboration with other people. Which is, for everyone except the most solipsistic, the best way to create music. It was, famously, the milieu of the recording that informed Bowie’s most highly regarded recordings. He may have written of himself as a tortured mind who never opens the shutters, but he was also a globetrotting superstar, and he was soaking up the unique flavor of alienation native to Los Angeles, and that of sedentary rural France, and finally, the sick metropolis of Berlin.

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