Folks, I’ve been on a big
I would look up at the sky and wonder what it would be like to be Major Tom, trapped way up there in outer space, floating in a tin can forever. Was it technically living? …
See, Spitz interweaves his own personal interaction with
Spitz covers as much territory as he can without actually having to interview his idol. He gets most of the key players – ex-wife Angie Bowie, guitarist Carlos Alomar, a ton of former managers and more – to cover the story, and utilizes a deep bibliography to fill in the missing storytellers, like the late Mick Ronson and Bowie himself. The result is a bio that hits all the needed plot points – his birth, his troubled family history, “The Laughing Gnome,” “Space Oddity,” glam rock, Brian Eno, conquering the ’80s, fading into obscurity in the ’80s, Tin Machine and more.
Given his self-admitted fandom, Spitz occasionally runs the risk of gushing too much:
Ziggy [Stardust] is the space-race anticlimax, Manson and
But here’s the thing. Spitz’s loving passages come from a place of deep-seated devotion. He’s not peddling bunk here. And he’s also not afraid to call his idol on his own bunk. Labyrinth gets a knock (Sounds like somebody needs a love injection). Some critically derided albums get elevated (Diamond Dogs, Let’s Dance), while others get dropped (Tonight, Never Let Me Down and even Space Oddity, which I happen to think is an underrated psych/folk/rock album). Sure, Spitz softballs Bowie’s sexual indiscretions and, uh, that time he got super coked out and spent the late ’70s advocating Nazism and fascism, but it’s not like he digs to justify every little thing he did. For comparison’s sake, check out Philip Norman’s John Lennon: The Life, in which the author spends an entire chapter not only validating his subject’s proclivity for masturbation, but elevating it to some sort of artistic expression on par with John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.