David Bowie, Waugh Fan (more)

In an earlier post, David Bowie’s appreciation of Waugh’s work was noted. An arts blogger (Dan Shepelavy) offers additional information. According to his article “Bright Young Things, Part 2: Bowie Edition,” Bowie’s album Aladdin Sane was inspired by his reading of Vile Bodies on a liner returning to Britain from his first U.S. tour in the 1970s. Shepelavy’s source is an article in the July 1973 edition of Circus Magazine:

David Bowie sat in an overstuffed armchair in his suite aboard the ship Ellinis, returning to London from his first triumphal tour of the States. His delicate brows knit in a look of perplexed recognition as he read Evelyn Waugh’s “Vile Bodies” – a 40 year-old, futuristic novel about a society of “bright young things” whirling through lavish parties in outlandish costumes, dancing, gossiping and sipping champagne. Suddenly David lowered the book to his lap, picked up the spiral notebook and pen sitting on the small mahogany table at his side, and began to write the words to the title song of his new LP, Aladdin Sane…“The book dealt with London in the period just before a massive, imaginary war.” David would later confide, touching one finger, with its green-painted nail, lightly to his chin. “People were frivolous, decadent and silly. And suddenly they were plunged into this horrendous holocaust. They were totally out of place, still thinking about champagne and parties and dressing up. Somehow it seemed to me that they were like people today.”

Shepelavy’s article helpfully provides quotes from Bowie’s lyrics and links to the songs that illustrate the influence of the novel.

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