Madonna is turning 60 this year (Aug 16th). And there have been lots of articles about her, written by those who know her and those who didn’t, and it’s been reminding me of how I became a fan when I was a lot younger.

So, Madonna.

I was three years old when I bopped along to Lucky Star in my car seat (or so I’ve been told– I can’t say I actually remember that.) I’m not even truly sure when I first really became a conscious fan of hers. Her music seemed to be everywhere; albums like True Blue and Like a Virgin were at the top of the charts. I can still easily sing along to most everything of her 80s work, with very few slip-ups.

But I think it was Like a Prayer that really got me into her work. At least, it was the first Madonna album where I was quite aware of it being released, and aware of the controversies around it, and around the video(s).

A black saint. Her dancing in front of burning crosses. That Pepsi commercial.

In trying to pin down exactly what 10-year-old me liked about Madonna, what comes to mind is that she was powerful. She was doing what she wanted, and she got attention, and she didn’t seem to care if anyone criticized what she was doing. A lot of it went over my head (and a lot of it I actually wasn’t allowed to watch given my age; I only just a few years ago finally watched Truth or Dare), but she was a compelling figure. I know at least part of that admiration stemmed from the fact that I was still a kid, and still didn’t have a whole lot of say about what went on in my life, what I could wear, and what I could do. And as someone who has always been pretty introverted (and at that time, quite shy as well), I admired that she could put it all out there.

I began to lose interest with Music; something about that newer dance music didn’t do much for me. But the 80s and 90s albums were seminal records for me. Madonna, Like a Virgin, True Blue, Like a Prayer, Erotica, Bedtime Stories (not so much) and Ray of Light, You Can Dance, and The Immaculate Collection. I still have favourite songs (Lucky Star, Into the Groove, Live to Tell, Like a Prayer, Express Yourself, Oh Father, Love Song, In This Life), and occasionally will listen to her on my iPod, but my fandom is not as strong as it once was.

Even still, it’s easy to think back to my childhood and early adolescence and think of one of her songs, or one of her albums, which provided the soundtrack to my early life. (From about age 14-15, it started to become about David Bowie as the soundtrack!)

So, Happy Birthday, Ms. Ciccone. 🙂

Bowie memories.


The initial shock of David Bowie’s death is beginning to wear off, and I’ve been listening to a lot of his music, including some old bootlegs from some of the shows I’ve attended.

In 2000, I was in New York for the BowieNet show (and for the other two shows that weekend in June… although the Saturday one didn’t go ahead, due to Bowie having lost his voice). It was brilliant meeting all the people I’d talked to online from BowieNet and Teenage Wildlife, and I burned the candle at both ends.

But what I remember most about Bowie specifically is that during the concert (though which of the two, I can’t recall), after everyone had been waving at him, he looked my way, and I waved, just a small, short bend of the hand, one-two. And he waved back with one finger, one-two. And I laughed, and he grinned.

That’s about as close as I ever got to a ‘fan encounter’ with Bowie. I never met him; I was too nervous to even consider it, and at that time in my life, very shy. But just thinking about that moment still makes me smile. Bowie had that absolute gift of making each person feel special, and in that instant, when his gaze met mine, and he saw me, it was enough.

One of the greatest artistic influences ever. David Bowie.


David Bowie has died.

I barely have words to explain how much I am grieving, but I will try.

I first became aware of David Bowie when I watched the film Labyrinth. I was six, maybe seven years old, and it became my favourite film. Several years later, as I entered adolescence, I became aware of Bowie as musician, and thus began my love of his work. My teenage years had a Bowie soundtrack: Black Tie White Noise, Buddha of Suburbia, 1. Outside (still my favourite record), and every back catalogue album I could get my hands on in the pre-internet days.

I first saw him in concert in 1997, during the Earthling tour, on September 6, 1997 in Vancouver at the Plaza of Nations. By this point I’d been online and participating in forums, most notably Teenage Wildlife. I met some of my best friends there, and on BowieNet. Because of Bowie, I traveled, met people, and learned a great deal. I saw him six times in concert (1997, 2000 (twice!), 2002, 2004 (twice)). I read books he read, listened to music he listened to… He was a huge influence.

I never met him, but if I could meet him today, I’d say thank you. Thank you, David, for making art for art’s sake, for making films and music, and for being such a huge part of my growing up.

He left a new album, two days before he died. That he could give his fans a last something is why I love him even more.

Oh my. Nick Cave. (My much delayed review)

I had never expected to get to see Nick Cave in concert. Ever.

To be honest, a lot of the musicians I like don’t seem to make it across the pond (or if they do, it’s only to Toronto/NYC/etc.). Seeing PJ Harvey in 2000 was only thanks to her touring as the opening act for U2, for example. And I have yet to see a number of other musicians I’d really like to (Swedish group Kent, for one).

Push-The-Sky-Away-nick-caveBut finally, to my utter delight, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds came to Calgary.

I’m still not quite over the show, and it’s been a week. The new album, Push The Sky Away, is fantastic. I’ve had it on repeat all week. As I said to my friend Karen, who came with me to the show: Nick Cave is up there as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. He’s as good as Bowie. And for me, that’s saying quite a lot.

He started with the first track from the new album, We No Who U R, and from that moment, I was completely smitten and entranced. Jubilee Street was next, and then the classic Tupelo, and Red Right Hand (which I had stuck in my head for several days afterwards). Interspersed with tracks from the new album were a good selection (most of which I’d heard on his Best Of… album), including The Weeping Song, From Her to Eternity, Into My Arms (beautifully done on piano), and The Mercy Seat (which came to a dramatic climax).

He also played Stagger Lee (probably one of the most recognizable from the Murder Ballads album) and seemed to take great delight in its drama, enunciating the violent swagger and commands of Stagger Lee as he moved across the stage.

The encore was three songs: The Ship Song; Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry; and The Lyre of Orpheus. The Ship Song moved me (as had Into My Arms, earlier), as I remember when I’d first heard it, on a mix tape given to me by a former boyfriend. At that point, I realized that I’d been listening to Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds since I was seventeen. How the time flies.

If I could, I’d turn back the clock and relive June 27th and the entire show. That’s how good it was.

Full Setlist:
We No Who U R
Jubilee Street
Red Right Hand
The Weeping Song
From Her to Eternity
West Country Girl
Into My Arms
God Is in the House
Higgs Boson Blues
The Mercy Seat
Stagger Lee
Push the Sky Away
The Ship Song
Papa Won’t Leave You, Henry
The Lyre of Orpheus

Music: The Stars (Are Out Tonight)… new David Bowie.

January 8, 2013 was a great day. A musician I’d just about given up on ever releasing a new album announced his first new album in a decade. Even though the single didn’t set me on fire (a bit too mellow for me), I walked around in a haze of new music.

And then, there was the second single release this past week…

This is the Bowie I remember. The song itself has embedded itself in my brain, and I can’t get it out. And the video. Oh the video. Bowie and Tilda Swinton, directed by Floria Sigismondi. A perfect combination.

The full album ‘The Next Day’ is streaming for free on iTunes right now, and it’s released on March 12 (US/Canada).

Happy Birthday, David Bowie!

I’m feeling rather happy this morning, having just heard the news that David Bowie has released a new single, and has a new album forthcoming soon. A perfect way to celebrate his 66th birthday, in my opinion. 🙂

I’ve listened to the single once, and thus far I like it. I have a feeling it’s one of those songs that will grow on me. I’m really more excited about what else is on the new album…

Articles in The Mirror, Billboard.

ETA: Bowie is even in the iTunes Canada chart! #1 in Albums! 🙂



I just picked up (or rather, UPS shipped me, from Amazon) the Ziggy Stardust 40th Anniversary LP/DVD-Audio edition, and I am in heaven. ZS was the first Bowie album I owned (on CD, the Rykodisc version) and it’s always been a favourite of mine. The only way to listen to it is to put it on from Five Years and listen all the way through till the end of Rock N’ Roll Suicide. If I had to choose a favourite track or two, it’d be Moonage Daydream, and Rock N’ Roll Suicide. This is one of Bowie’s albums where I don’t have a song I skip over.

My precious.

Yes, I am a Bowie geek. Need a listen? Check out the streaming of the album on NME.

If you need me, I’ll be listening to Ziggy.

Music: Savoy – Velvet

I was introduced to the Norwegian band Savoy when I was a teenager, thanks to my friend Petter. They’re another one of those bands that I heard during my formative years, and thus, years later, I still pull out their CDs and listen. When I get tired of listening to NIN, Seigmen, or my various swing records, there’s always Savoy to accompany me as I write. My favourite album of theirs is ‘Lackluster Me’, though my favourite song is the one below, called ‘Velvet’.


Music: Mitsou

My first introduction to French music came when I was ten years old, in the form of Québécoise singer Mitsou, and the single Bye Bye, Mon Cowboy, as well as the album Terre des Hommes. Bye Bye, Mon Cowboy is the only French language song I can ever remember becoming a hit on the radio in English Canada. (There have probably been more since then, but I rarely listen to the radio.)

Is there any music from your childhood that helped to shape your adult tastes?

(This video by Mitsou was banned in Canada on its release in 1990, due to nudity. However, I watch it now and I think they have made too much of a fuss.)