Thursday, 28 April 2016

X - X-Rated Borders

David Bowie wrote no songs whose titles begin with the letter X.

However he certainly had no fear of putting allusions to sexuality in many of his songs and performances.  Nobody could pin him to one category: his early stage personas were presented as androgynous, he declared himself gay during a 1972 interview but later claimed he was bisexual, and he famously opened a 1975 Grammys speech with "Ladies and gentlemen, and others" - all while married to his first wife Angela.

There were times that he clashed with censors who wanted him to modify lyrics or album art.  The cover painting for his 1974 album Diamond Dogs was airbrushed to remove the dog's genitalia.  In the song "Beauty and the Beast" on his 1977 album "Heroes" the line Someone fetch a priest was originally intended to be Someone f*** a priest (which happened to be a favourite epithet at the time).  Before a guest spot on SNL in 1979, network execs told him that they would mute a line from the song "Boys Keep Swinging": When you're a boy other boys check you out.  In protest he performed the song while strapped to an anatomically correct life-sized marionette.

In some ways he was a one-man spearhead for the sexual revolution.  As he put it in a 1976 interview for Playboy magazine: "Sex has never really been shocking, it was just the people who performed it who were."  The bluntness of that attitude is quite obvious in such works as "Moonage Daydream", "Sex and the Church", and many others.  He was never one to skirt the subject.

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