I don’t remember exactly when I forgave David Bowie for Outside. I suspect it was the first time I heard Seven Years In Tibet. Whatever was going on with Outside, it was fully redeemed by Earthling.
Some choose to think of these two albums as a pair — in particular since, according to the-internet’s-gift-source-of-information, Wikipedia, Earthling was a product of the days immediately following the Outside tour. Indeed, I’m Afraid Of Americans, one of the few tracks from Earthling that Bowie continued to play live throughout the early 2000s, was originally intended to be part of Outside but was dropped — apparently because it didn’t fit.
This was my experience: I bought the CD of Outside. I played it, read the liner notes, and within a day had literally thrown it out. At first I tried to hide it among my other CDs, but I still knew it was there — and couldn’t stand the thought of it. So into the trash it went.
If this was the precursor to what, even looking back, is one of my favourite Bowie albums, Earthling, this is how I see it. If the musicality and creative inspiration that went into both records was, metaphorically speaking, a glass of oil and water — Outside got all the negative, disturbing energy. It got the oil. Earthling got the pure, positive vibe. It’s the water.
I won’t listen to Outside again. This song, however, is getting an exception.
This is a blog dedicated to celebrating the genius of Bowie — if I take this option of including a song from Outside, it is to celebrate the fact that dedication to the creative process will mean that sometimes you come up with things that are dark, disturbing and ugly. And if you’re David Bowie, you’ll pick up from it, move on, change your outfit, and dress yourself up in positive energy again.
(At the end of this clip, after a couple of commercials, there’s a cute joke from Letterman that makes reference to Bowie’s slippery leather duds).