David Bowie Michael Gross - Essay

Michael Gross

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

David Bowie's Young Americans lp is the strongest set of studio material he has released since Ziggy Stardust. Like a split leaf philodendron whose leaves grow back whole, the segmented parts of Bowie's musical personality have coalesced into a seemingly transitional, but nonetheless identifiable persona. The acute observer of Man Who Sold The World, the poet of Hunky Dory and the fragmented space child of his recent work have combined, and though the musical atmosphere may prove initially frustrating to Bowie's peculiar mixture of fans and admirers, the album ultimately holds up as being phenomenologically precise.

Hegel, of course, has nothing to do with Bowie, but if one considers the ch-ch-ch-changes this singular creature of the music business has gone through since he first hit America in 1972, one can understand his current preoccupation with the solitude of "Fame," the pulling force of "Fascination," and the need that drives a man with so many obvious creative instincts as Bowie has. For a while it seemed he would simply fragment. Young Americans leads me to believe that Bowie will continue turning his life into art—an art that will often frustrate, as life often frustrates, but that will ultimately be seen as a total, and undeniably classy (even if the class if faddish), body of work. Too many critics have seen Bowie as an easy shot. It's not time to write him off just yet.

Michael Gross, "Capsule Reviews: 'Young Americans'," in Crawdaddy (copyright © 1975 by Crawdaddy Publishing Co., Inc.; all rights reserved; reprinted by permission), June, 1975, p. 73.