Friday, November 25, 2011

David Bowie -- "Rebel Rebel" (1974)

Got your mother in a whirl
She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl

I've got some advice for the mother who is in such "a whirl" over her ambiguous-gendered child: just ignore him/her.  He/she only looks that way because you and his/her dad and his/her teachers make such a fuss about the way he/she looks.  Trust me -- pay him/her no attention and he/she will get tired of looking that way and go back to shopping at J. Crew.

(Love the eyepatch!)
To call David Bowie a musical chameleon is an understatement.  A chameleon may be able to change its colors, but it remains a chameleon.  It can't turn itself into a fish or a bird or a monkey.

It seemed that Bowie changed musical identities almost as often as I change my underwear.  (Once a week, whether I need to or not.)  When I was in college, he was a glam-rocker from outer space (Ziggy Stardust).  During my law-school years, he was a funk/soul/disco dude (the "Thin White Duke").  Later he transformed into the cooly post-modern minimalist of the "Berlin Trilogy" albums.  So confusing!

His 1974 album, Diamond Dogs, was his last glam-rock album and his first "plastic soul" album.  (One + one = one in this case.)

"Rebel Rebel" -- his last glam-rock single -- was originally written for a planned Ziggy Stardust musical that never got off the ground.  It's a gender-bender like the Kinks' "Lola," but sounds more like an old Rolling Stones song.  

Dozens of other artists have covered it -- everyone from the Bay City Rollers to Def Leppard to Duran Duran to Joan Jett to Iggy Pop to the Smashing Pumpkins.

Manchester United soccer fans sing this tribute to Gary and Phil Neville, two brothers who once played on the team to the tune of the chorus of "Rebel Rebel":

Neville Neville, they're in defence
Neville Neville, their future's immense
Neville Neville, they ain't half bad
Neville Neville, the name of their dad

Netballer Neville
And yes, Neville Neville is the actual name of Gary's and Phil's dad, a former cricketer.

By the way, Neville Neville's other child, daughter Tracey -- Phil's fraternal twin -- is a professional netball player (whatever netball is).

Here's a fabulous old video of Bowie lip-synching "Rebel Rebel."  The image quality is great, so hit "full screen" and enjoy.

And here's a link you can use to order the song from Amazon:

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