By J. Bradley
As I read the various feeds mourning David Bowie’s passing, I see Heroes, Low, Ziggy Stardust name checked as some of his best work. There is only one other person I’ve seen acknowledge David Bowie’s Outside in some capacity.
David Bowie’s Outside (the Ritual Art-Murder of Baby Grace Blue: A non-linear Gothic Drama Hyper-Cycle) was this concept album that focused on Nathan Adler (Art Crime detective) investigating the ritual murder and dismemberment of Baby Grace Blue.
Based on watching “The Heart’s Filthy Lesson” on MTV, I bought Outside with some of the money I got for Christmas of 1995. It was unlike anything that I ever heard at that point, this creation of a linked narrative through music. The critics had mixed feelings about Outside because of its weirdness, how few singles it produced, its eschewing of any kind of traditional pop sensibilities. You would have thought these critics would have known better to expect any kind of static musical identity from Bowie based on his previous identities.
I think the albums that commercially or critically failed are more important as markers in an musician’s career than those albums that are considered classic. To a casual listener, Outside was a failure. To someone who really had a feel for what David Bowie was doing throughout his career, Outside was just another skin he was trying on. He was always more interested in creating art that compelled him rather than what compelled us; I think every artist should treat what they create like that. It’s something that I keep in mind with everything that I write.
J. Bradley is a writer based out of Orlando, FL. He is the author of the graphic poetry collection, The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014), with art by Adam Scott Mazer, and the forthcoming collection The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016). His chapbook, Neil, won Five [Quarterly]'s 2015 e-Chapbook Contest for Fiction. J. Bradley runs the Central Florida-based reading series/chapbook publisher There Will Be Words and lives at iheartfailure.net.