“Is David Bowie Dying?” asks the Flaming Lips
March 28, 2011
The Flaming Lips are back to releasing new music, though no proper album is in the works. Last month, they announced the first part of what seems will become an epic track. It’s all super-convoluted for a casual Lips fan like myself (read all about it here), though many familiar with this blog know I have celebrated the band on many an occasion (Flaming Lips overwhelm at the House of Blues, Orlando, October 16, 2010; Flaming Lips’ version of Darkside coming to vinyl, March 18, 2010 <– to note but two posts).
What really re-sparked my Flaming interest was word of a very limited vinyl EP, in collaboration with Neon Indian, entitled “Is David Bowie Dying?” It was released very low-key and by word-of-mouth with certain indie stores having exclusive access to the record directly from the band. There was even a signing with singer Wayne Coyne himself at one shop. A great chronicle of this release can be found on the band’s message board, right here, which is maintained by Lips fans. Supposedly no two vinyl records are the same color. A nice array of the colored vinyls can be found at Amy Brown’s Facebook page, which she shared with fellow Lips fans via the message board. The pictures were taken at the shop were Coyne appeared to sign the records (images of him doing so are there too).
No, I have yet to personally obtain a physical copy, but I am working on it and have hopes that more stores will get it, thanks to a message re-Tweeted by Coyne stating the following:
“Don’t pay Ebay prices for new Lips vinyl – more stores should have today or tomorrow! Good Records, Grimeys, Electric Fetus.
Stores that should have them today or tomorrow: Dwelling Spaces (Tulsa), Other Music (NYC), Luna Records (Indianapolis)
More copies of the new Lips vinyl will be available in 2 weeks.”
And, you know what? You can hear it all on YouTube, which is fair enough, considering how frustrated some Lips fans have been in getting their own copy:
Now, listen to the music (nice, stark and appropriate), because beyond the details of the “marketing” behind this vinyl record, what is most interesting to look at, especially for me as a long-time Bowie fan, is the title of this record (a search for Bowie’s name in this blog will reveal just how often I have covered the retired godfather of alt-rock and my top favorite artist in music’s history).
Any true Bowie fan will not be as much offended by the title as have a severe feeling of deja vu. With the last Bowie original full-length release having happened in 2003 with Reality (Support the Independent Ethos, buy the album on Amazon.com), I too have wondered this very question in recent years, but not in a literal sense.
Bowie was in renaissance mode with his last two albums, which also included 2002’s Heathen (Support the Independent Ethos, buy the album on Amazon.com), when he quietly but gradually retired from recording music and touring. Both albums were produced by the man who also produced Bowie’s all-important Berlin trilogy, Tony Visconti and were his best since Buddha of Suburbia (Support the Independent Ethos, buy the album on Amazon.com).
I love the Lips and I love Bowie, and I love that they ask a deep question on the state of Bowie, beyond the man. I am comfortable with it because, at least in my world of perception, Bowie will never die. His legacy in music has forever found its place. If the question has any relevance at all, it is in asking whether musicians or fans of music are now losing touch with Bowie’s musical value. I meet more and more casual music fans who hear the name David Bowie who are more and more likely to not know his name. One day might this pass into the progressive alt-rock world? Is it starting to happen now? The question is valid, and the music is suitable, but it might just be a little premature.
For any Bowie fans offended by the title, no, the Flaming Lips (incidentally the warmest most loving band I have ever seen live) mean no malice to Mr. Bowie’s health. According to a Lips fan identifying himself as Mr. Modular on this thread via the unofficial Flaming Lips message board: “Etched into the vinyl on the A side it says ‘The Flaming Lips Hope David Bowie Isn’t Dying!!!’ and on the B side it says ‘The Flaming Lips will always love you!!!'”
Finally, there seemed to have been a hint regarding this release, be it coincidence, synchronicity or chance, not too long before the EP’s release via the ‘net. About a week ago, just a few days before the release of “Is David Bowie Dying?”, someone posted the following vintage concert poster from a show headlined by the Flaming Lips:
Notice who has the biggest crop of hair in that shot and no face? It is probably the most iconic image of Bowie’s album covers, Aladdin Sane: