On New Years Eve I listened to some David Bowie. The song “Cygnet Committee” stood the test of time remarkably well. In fact, while listening I couldn’t help but think that David Bowie was a bit of a seer without really knowing it. His career IMO lapsed into ego-driven intellectualism toward the end. And his music got progressively less interesting to me. I didn’t say uninteresting but LESS interesting.
I think I know just about every David Bowie song there is, which means, yes, I do find all of his work interesting to some degree.
This tune, recorded early on just before he became a megastar, shows shades of optimism and social activism* before almost everything Bowie did was ‘bracketed‘ as the scholars say. To ‘bracket’ something means to make a claim with some kind of distance, reservation or (phony) objectivity.
But even here we can sense that Bowie isn’t fully in it. At times in this cut he sounds John Lennon-ish – “All We Are Saying…” – but not quite embodying the raw power and authority of a Lennon. No, Bowie, seems to be bracketing a bit even in this early tune. But I think I sensed a glimmer of actual hope while listening.
Released in 1969, the song seemed appropriate for our times…
* Wikipedia writes it off as “dystopian” but in keeping with the view of phony objectivity, I think whoever wrote that entirely missed the point.