Para introduzir um tom menos unanimista nos epitáfios que caem hoje em catadupa dedicados ao David Bowie (como génio merece mais do que a simples apologia), ficam algumas palavras de Lester Bangs, um dos críticos musicais mais brilhantes, polémicos e acutilantes, escritas aquando do lançamento de Station to Station (1976). Como se percebe por estas palavras, Lester Bangs não morria de amores por David Bowie. Mas se o texto não é propriamente uma ode ao músico britânico, é de notar como Bangs passa, em poucas linhas, da aversão à rendição e acaba por confessar que não pode esperar por ouvir o que é que o músico terá para mostrar a seguir. Esta mudança de opinião não é apenas uma reflexo das contradições características de Bangs e do seu mau-feitio; interessa, acima de tudo, como ilustração da capacidade de reinvenção permanente que caracterizou a carreira de Bowie e que o torna numa lenda da cultura pop e da música do século XX impossível de ignorar.
“Now, as any faithful reader of this magazine is probably aware, David Bowie has never been my hero. I always thought all that Ziggy Stardust homo-from-Adelbaran business was a crock of shit, especially coming from a guy who wouldn’t even get in a goddam airplane. I thought he wrote the absolute worst lyrics I had ever heard from a major pop figure with the exception of Bernie Taupin, lines like “Time takes a cigarette and puts it in your mouth” delivered with a face so straight it seemed like it would crack at a spontaneous word or gesture, seemed to me merely gauche. As for his music, he was as accomplished an eclectician (a.k.a. thief) as Elton John, which means that though occasionally deposited onstage after seemingly being dipped in vats of green slime and pursued by Venusian crab boys, he had Showbiz Pro written all over him. A facade as brittle as it was icy, which I guess means that it was bound to crack or thaw, and whatever real artistic potency lay beneath would have to stand or evaporate.
Crack Bowie did, in the last year or so, and the result was Young Americans. It was not an album beloved of trad Bowiephiles, but for somebody like your reviewer, who never put any chips on the old chickenhead anyway, it was a perfectly acceptable piece of highly listenable product. More than that, in fact – it was a highly personal musical statement disguised as a shameless fling at the disco market, the drag perhaps utilized as an emotional red herring. Young Americans wasn’t Bowie dilettanting around with soul music, it was the bridge between melancholy and outright depression, an honest statement from a deeply troubled, mentally shattered individual who even managed, for the most part, to skirt self-pity. Like many of his peers, Bowie has cracked – and for him it was good, because it made him cut the bullshit. Young Americans was his first human album since Hunky Dory, and in my opinion the best record he ever put out.
Till now. The first things to be said about Station to Station are that it sounds like he’s got a real live band again (even if star guitarist Earl Slick reportedly split between the sessions and the new tour), and that this is not a disco album either (though that’s what the trades, and doubtless a lot of other people, are going to write it off as) but an honest attempt by a talented artist to take elements of rock, soul music, and his own idiosyncratic and occasionally pompous showtune/camp predilections and rework this seemingly contradictory melange of styles into something new and powerful that doesn’t have to cop either futuristic attitudes or licks from Anthony Newley and the Velvet Underground because he’s found his own voice at last.
This is the first Bowie album without a lyric sheet, and I’m glad, because aside from reservations voiced above I’ve always agreed with Fats Domino that it’s more fun to figure them out for yourself. The first line on the album is the worst: “The return of the thin white duke / Throwing darts in lovers’ eyes.” Somehow, back in Rock Critics’ Training School, when they told me about “pop poetry,” I didn’t and still don’t think that they were talking about this, which is not only pretentious and mildly unpleasant, but I am currently wrestling with a terrible paranoia that this is Bowie talking about himself. I have a nightmare vision in my mind of him opening the set in his new tour by striding out onstage slowly, with a pained look in his eyes and one spotlight following him, mouthing these words. And, quite frankly, that idea terrifies me. Because if it’s true, it means he’s still as big an idiot as he used to be and needs a little more cocaine to straighten him out.
(…) I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I think that Bowie has finally produced his (first) masterpiece. To hell with Ziggy Stardust, which amounted to starring Judy Garland in The Reluctant Astronaut, fuck trying to be George Orwell and William Burroughs when you’ve only read half of Nova Express – this and Young Americans are the first albums he’s made which don’t sound like scams. Bowie has dropped his pretensions, or most of them at any rate, and in doing that I believe he’s finally become and artist instead of a poseur, style collector and (admittedly always great, excepting Raw Power) producer. He’ll still never have a shot at becoming my hero, because he’s neither funny nor black enough, but I can hardly wait to hear what he’s going to have to say next.”
In Creem, April 1976
(excerto tirado de Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung)