Bowie’s Changes – the Many Lives of a Rock Artist: David Bowie IS, the Brooklyn Museum

Bowie’s Changes – the Many Lives of a Rock Artist: David Bowie IS, the Brooklyn Museum

When it comes to approach of identity-definition, there are two kinds of artists.

The first kind develops his/her craft and his idiom as far as they can go, and then, once sensing that the craft and idiom have within themselves some kind of success-potential for communication of ideas and sentiments, settles upon them. The artist decides to perfect his/her selected approach - and perform it and publish it - again and again and again. And it works well. Audiences who dig it do dig it and don’t ask questions.

The second kind possesses and revels in his/her craft and his idiom as parts of him/herself, and then, once sensing their abilities and limitations in terms of potential for artistic achievement, rejects them. The artist decides that s/he will reinvent the selected craft - and dress it in different fabrics and colors and styles - again and again and again. And it works well. Audiences who dig it do dig it, mostly, and ask an ongoing plethora of ever-changing questions as they bear witness to the eternal evolution of the artist’s craft.

Donald Fagen and The Nightflyers, The TVD Interview

Donald Fagen and The Nightflyers, The TVD Interview

“I wish I had a heart like ice,” Donald Fagen—or rather his character, uber-hip yet lovelorn jazz DJ Lester—yearns in “The Nightfly.” The track is a high point on an autobiography-infused nostalgiAlbum of high points. The Nightfly, Fagen’s debut solo recording—which also featured classics “I.G.Y.” and “New Frontier”—was nominated for seven Grammy awards and released in 1982.

The Yardbirds' Jim McCarty, The TVD Interview

The Yardbirds' Jim McCarty, The TVD Interview

There are two schools of thought when it comes to band legacies. The first being—once the original lineup is disbanded, the band is dead forever, its name included. The second being—as long as a founding member or two remain involved, as long as a spark of the band’s core identity somehow remains, the band can go on living and using its name. The Yardbirds are of the second school, and for the past few decades, drummer-composer Jim McCarty has led the blues-rock group that he co-founded in a way that maintains its awe-worthy history and simultaneously insists upon a perpetual newness. The same kind of newness that accompanied the Yardbirds’ nightly rave-ups during their early ‘60s Crawdaddy Club residency, once the Rolling Stones had outgrown the role.

Bobby Whitlock and CoCo Carmel, The TVD Interview

Bobby Whitlock and CoCo Carmel, The TVD Interview

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, All Things Must Pass, and Exile on Main St.—three rock and roll albums with several captivating commonalities. All were recorded and released in the early 1970s. All are now widely regarded as some of the most remarkable albums ever made in the history of popular music. All were included on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list, too. And all featured singer-keyboardist extraordinaire Bobby Whitlock.

Procol Harum's Gary Brooker, The Observer Interview

Procol Harum's Gary Brooker, The Observer Interview

Fifty years into a legendary career, most bands are content to rest on their hits, releasing bland blues covers albums or bored-yet-pleasant regurgitations of their earliest work. Procol Harum is not “most bands.”On the 50th anniversary of their debut album, the English prog rock icons continue to remain a singular force in modern rock music, embracing the new-song, best-song philosophy on their first album in 14 years, Novum, out on Friday, April 21, via Eagle Records.