Once in a life? No, twice in a life. At least.
Long, long ago and fresh out of film school, I worked with David Bowie in Berlin. At the end of the happy Christmas dinner at a secluded restaurant in the Grunewald, I followed him downstairs to the huge, ceramic lavatory where – as we stood before the urinals – we sang Buddy Holly songs together, or at least a line and a half from Little Richard’s Good Golly Miss Molly (“Not that old chestnut,” I hear regular readers cry).
Fast forward to the 21st century and I’m in a studio together with J. Willgoose, Esq. – founding member of the British band Public Service Broadcasting – recording six one-hour podcasts on the making of Bright Magic, their new album which was energized by the reading of my book Berlin: Imagine a City.
My take on it? Bright Magic is a sensational creation — moving, dynamic, learned, hopeful, touching, intimate, teasing, respectful, and unforgettable — “eine Geschichte über Berlin” (a story/history of Berlin) that is destined to become part of the city’s creative mythology. Not only that but the hit single People, Let’s Dance is named after my chapter of the same title.
The six podcasts — the first of which is released this week – explore its creation alongside that of the Berlin which — and Berliners who — inspired it. Of course I’m biased but they are a really good listen. The first episode of the podcast, talking about the birth of the idea of the record as well as the opening track, is today #2 in Music on iTunes. You can hear it here.
While waiting for further podcasts to go live, you may want to check out the second pre-released video Blue Heaven, the band’s tribute to Marlene Dietrich with dancer Celine Fortenbacher.
(The record – launched last week when it hit #2 in the UK charts — is currently available on iTunes as well as being on various other very convenient digital retailers like Bandcamp, with a choice of formats and the digital booklet included.)
I hope you and yours have managed to keep well in this strange, suspended year. Over eight months have passed since my last post but life moves ahead and my autumn is full of creative writing workshops: in Berlin (16/17 October), in Dorset (both weekends sold out) and at Arvon in Devon with Kassia St Clair, author of Secret Life of Colours (8-12 November). Ahead of that, I’m giving practical, nuts-and-bolts, online Arvon Masterclass on the mechanics of describing places and illuminating F. Scott Fitzgerald’s principle that character is action (5 October). Also extended workshops are upcoming at Moniack Mhor in the Scottish Highlands and in Ireland (details to follow).
But hang on; I haven’t mentioned my third rock ‘n’ roll moment. In a few weeks I’ll be joining Public Service Broadcasting for part of their upcoming UK and European tour. Call it research for a future book. And worry not, music fans; I’ll not be stepping up to the microphone to repeat my lavatorial rendition of Good Golly Miss Molly.