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Week 55 | Serious Moonlight EP (2006?)

This one is a little bit of a mystery.  There is Bowie EP called, “Serious Moonlight,” which is a phrase that appears in the song, “Let’s Dance,” which is not actually one of the songs on the EP.  As a side note, my mother always thought the line, “under the moonlight; the serious moonlight,” was hilarious, and I agree with her on that.  Anyway, this EP includes live versions of “Space Oddity;” “China Girl;” “Breaking Glass;” and “Young Americans.”  They were apparently recorded during the Serious Moonlight tour, which took place in or around 1983, but the EP wasn’t released until either 2006 or 2009.  I purchased this EP as a download and sometimes listen to the songs as part of a shuffle on my Apple devices.  

What more is there to say?  The live versions of these familiar songs are pretty good.  The selection is a reminder that even at the height of Bowie’s mainstream persona, he was still performing songs from his more threatening days.  So…good.  Glad this exists.  

The mystery, or mysteries, are not necessarily essential to the EP.  But for some reason, when I sketched out this project nearly a year ago, I apparently identified this EP as “Space Oddity” rather than “Serious Moonlight,” and identified the year of its release as 2009 rather than 2006.  I’m not sure why I made either mistake, however the song, “Space Oddity,” seems to be the only one of the EP’s four songs to remain on most of my devices.  The others not only seem to have vanished, but don’t seem to exist as an option to download (or purchase).  This could more be a function of my confusion by Apple’s perpetual “intuitive” upgrades than anything that actually happened to the songs, but I also think their disappearance highlights one of the risks of shifting away from CDs (or tapes or records) towards downloads an streaming.  No, CDs (and the others) are not eternal, but they have a closer sense of permanence than do downloads.  At least the owner has more control over what happens to them.  I own some actual vinyl Bowie records from the 1970s, which I today use as decorations and don’t actually listen to, but I am responsible for their condition.  Did I do something to eliminate three songs from the “Serious Moonlight” EP?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Maybe it was Apple or someone who holds the copyrights.  Anyway, the songs are gone.

The next mystery is why the EP came about in the first place.  Whether it was released in 2006 or 2009, it was well before Bowie’s death.  Possibly, the idea was to put out something “new” from Bowie while it was relatively early in his apparent, but unannounced retirement to buy some time before his hoped-for return.  That would make sense, though Bowie wouldn’t return until 2013 with, “The Next Day.”  But that’s a guess— I know nothing about the story behind this EP.  I also don’t know if it ever existed as a CD or if this was simply a download.  If the songs had more permanence  to them, this type of thing is actually better as a download.  Listening to EPs (let alone singles) is an active exercise.  They go by pretty quickly then need to be replaced in the CD player.  I remember old record players that held up stacked singles that would drop on top of the last single so one song would play after the next.  Some old CD players held multiple CDs for a similar purpose.  Today, CD players are less prolific and the need to keep the music going is less dependent on the number of CDs or records the player holds.  EPs and singles fit better in playlists.  If only we can be sure that the songs stick around. 

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