“All the Young Dudes” (David Bowie)

Mott the Hoople’s far more famous version is so welcoming in its vocal outro: “I want to hear you, I want to see you, and I want to relate to you.” Thus, Ian Hunter firmly positions the song on the side of the glam “dudes,” while Bowie’s original take on them is relentlessly ambivalent. Yes, “I got T. Rex,” but in order to really get it, “man, I need a T.V.,” too. Bowie puts his finger on glam’s worrying teletechnological supplement: the “television man is crazy,” and anti-rock, but if I smash the boob tube I won’t see this week’s “Top of the Pops,” or the latest Russell Harty or Bob Harris interview with Marc. This concern, of course, redounds on Ziggy, who worked and shopped his television image as hard as anyone. Two strategies remain possible: abandoning entirely the image of the pop idol (purity), or unworking the mediascape as a pop artiste (parasite).

 

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