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Day 362 | Time

Space was Bowie’s friend, while time was his enemy.  Bowie’s characters come from space (“Starman,” “Memory of A Free Fesitival,” “Born in a UFO,”) fade away in space (“Space Odditiy,” “Dancing Out In Space,”) achieve a stasis in space (“Ashes to Ashes,” “TVC15,” “Slip Away,”) and just have fun in space (“I Took A Trip On A Gemini Spaceship”). Space never consumes Bowie’s characters.  They don’t even really explicitly die in space-it isn’t a cold place for Bowie, it is a comforting place.  Time, on the other hand has a savaging impact on Bowie’s characters: “Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.” “Time takes a cigarette, puts it in your mouth…” The changes that happen over time are never good: the act gets old (“same old thing, in brand new drag;” “the pretty things a going to hell”).  The time-ravaged are pathetic (“forget that I’m 50 ‘cuz you just got paid.”) Those who are not ravaged by time are “tragic” (as in “The Supermen,” who are cursed with “endless tragic lives.”) The memories of past times are rarely comforting (“killing time in the 70s,” “where are we now?”) But in all those lyrics from all those songs, Time is part of the supporting cast.  This song sums it all up.  Time is a killer “demanding Billy Dolls and other friends of mine.”  That’s a reference to a member of the band, The New York Dolls who died too early.  Bowie witnessed many contemporaries pass away before him, their public images frozen in time.  What may have seemed worse to a younger person, he also saw contemporaries degenerate either into profound instability (Syd Barrett) or irrelevance (Marc Bolan).  This concern, if not obsession with time and the effects of its passage might explain Bowie’s career-defining practice of constant redefinition.  Album: Aladdin Sane.

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