I was about 10 when “Let’s Dance” was released. The title track was on the radio and all over the music video shows (we didn’t have MTV). That year, for Christmas, I asked my Mom and Dad for a David Bowie album.
On Christmas morning I opened up an LP shaped package suspecting “Let’s Dance” was inside. When I got it open it turned out to be a record I’d never heard of: “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.”
The front of the LP showed a dark wet street, Bowie on a stoop with an electric guitar. On the back a languid pose in a window. The instructions: “TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME.”
I’d lie on the floor by the speakers and listen to the entire album. After the final note of “Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide” I’d come back to my parents’ living room from the trip the album took me on.
There’ve been countless hours with that album, singing along with Katie, the boys, or by myself, in cars or dark rooms, watching the film of the performance at the Odeon.
Many of his albums (mostly early ones) since and that one is still one of my favorites, of his or of anyone’s. That work, the separate pieces (all except “It Ain’t Easy,” I never thought it fit), the runs, the acoustic guitar, Ronson’s electric, the orchestration, the count offs, the breaths, and the pauses, all familiar and homey.