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Goblin Queen
(kook)
02/09/02 09:08 AM
DJ - I am What I Play  

I may be reading waaay too much into this (crazy ideas pop into my head at this hour), but a thought struck me as I was reading some posts here. In Bowie's "DJ", does he make a reference to the fact that he is really David Jones?? I mean - "I am a DJ, I AM what I play..."

just a thought. My apologies if this seems to have posted itself twice, my computer is having some sort of spak attack.

"You all want my money, you leeches!" - David Bowie

GBA Dammit!!
Dave, get your prancy butt back here to Australia

twister
(stardust savant)
02/09/02 09:51 AM
Believing Me new [re: Goblin Queen]  

A couple of Bowie biographers have made something of the fact D.J. is in fact David Jones's real initials, but personally I don't think it's intentional. It's just an analogy that all the public get to see of him is the music that he puts out (like any D.J.), or perhaps an anlogy to say quite literally that he is what he plays, that the music he puts out (at that time, anyway) is very representative of his true self, naked and exposed for all to see.

Either way, I don't think the D.J. = David Jones thing is intentional.

I hope that I can say the things I wish I'd said.

TheDeuce
(stardust savant)
02/09/02 11:06 AM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: Goblin Queen]  

It's funny that you mention DJ. I experienced the first two lines on Thursday. "I'm home...lost my job."

"If you open your mind for me
it won't rely on open eyes to see
the walls you built within
come tumbling down and a new world will begin


Cryx
(kook)
02/10/02 06:45 AM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: Goblin Queen]  

The way I've always interpreted this song is as a reaction against radiostations that only play mainstream pop-music.
I am what I play: DJ's are often people without any feeling for decent music (like Bowie's ), so they don't play it.

The DJ who sings this song, probably has played some "better" music and is fired for it (I'm home, lost my job).

He also mentions that his boss is a puppet: of the music industry? They control which songs are to be played and which not.

Maybe I'm just hearing this in this song, because that's how I feel about the radio nowadays.


God doesn't care if I'm good

Cisite
(kook)
02/10/02 07:25 AM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: Goblin Queen]  

"Can't turned around no, can't turn around"
This line is interesting because he could be refering to the personas he created for himself. He can't go back or turn around to just being David Jones. He has believers and he must be Ziggy Stardust/Thin White Duke or even just David Bowie. Its too late for him to go back and be David Jones again.

"Why can't people go through life without comparing their own to anyone elses?"

AdamModerator
(crash course raver)
02/10/02 08:15 AM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: Cisite]  

Bowie said:

"The D.J. is the one who is having the ulcers now, not the executives, because if you do the unthinkable thing of putting a record on in a disco not in time, that's it. If you have 30 seconds silence, your whole career is over".

So in this context, "I am what I play" is the D.J.'s total success or failure depending on what is played at any one moment. "Can't turn around no, can't turn around no" could refer to two sides of vinyl - making sure the record goes on the "right" way. The line "I've got believers believing me" suggests the D.J. is all too aware of public perception. "Humble pie" suggests a level of humiliation but a forced submission.

In the song, the character loses his day job "I'm home, and incurably ill", and reflects "you think this is easy, realism". He goes to clubs and/or radio stations where he has the ability to turn it on, and perhaps redress the situation - "he used to be my boss and now he is a puppet dancer". But the D.J. also has great deal of uncertainty in his life, he says "I've got a girl out there, - I suppose - I think she's dancing - what do I know?"

I am what I play!

trendy rechauffe
(cracked actor)
02/11/02 07:12 AM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: Adam]  

In reply to:

and incurably ill


I've never really understood this line.

bye tr

trendy's trainpage is at http://www.geocities.com/trendy_rechauffe

"No peachy prayers, no trendy rechauffé
I'm with you so I can't go on"

G.B.A.

Niniwe
(electric tomato)
02/11/02 09:06 AM
I have not lost it....yet. new [re: trendy rechauffe]  

By "incurably ill", I don't think David meant it literally.
The guy lost his job and he sits at home. He maybe feels "incurably" ill because he cannot cope with the stresses of working, maybe too depressed to do anything but play music. He probably decided going to do an ordinary work everyday is not for him anymore anyway. It makes him ill.
I can almost relate to all this.
I have not felt so demotivated with work as I felt today, on this day of all days!

Well the river's so muddy, but it may come clear
And I know too well what's keeping me here.


Nature_Boy
(grinning soul)
02/18/02 10:41 AM
Re: I have not lost it....yet. new [re: Niniwe]  

Yeah, I take 'incurably ill' as him basically saying he's inconsolable, and sick of it.

But here's one:

"I feel like Dan Dare lies down" You what???

Before reading the lyric sheet I always that it was 'I feel (like) tan-talised now', or something to that effect, which makes more sense in regard to the 'girl out there' who he think's 'is dancing'. Then its a sort of throw back to John, I'm only Dancing in that respect.

But yeah, any suggestions there would be good.

"Time flies when you're having fun"





AdamModerator
(crash course raver)
02/19/02 00:48 AM
Heroes and Villians new [re: Nature_Boy]  

In reply to:

"I feel like Dan Dare lies down" You what???


Dan Dere is an early comic book hero. The DJ has lost his job. He feels like a fallen hero.

The Music is Outside

michaelrudd
(mortal with potential)
04/25/02 02:16 AM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: Goblin Queen]  

A bit of a tangent: I've always recognized a David Byrne-like vocal affectation by Bowie in this song (most comparable to I'm Not in Love from TH's second record). They were both working with Eno around the same time and I know Byrne was a big Bowie fan. But I've never found any concrete information on whether Byrne influenced Bowie in any way. Anyone know?



schizophrenic
(grinning soul)
04/28/02 01:14 PM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: Adam]  

"Humble pie" suggests a level of humiliation but a forced submission".

Actually, Humble Pie is the name of a band.
The line "Humble pie or Bitter Fruit" probably refers to a DJ taking reqests



WildWind
(stardust savant)
04/28/02 10:33 PM
Sometimes a cigar is more than a cigar new [re: schizophrenic]  

In reply to:

Actually, Humble Pie is the name of a band.
The line "Humble pie or Bitter Fruit" probably refers to a DJ taking reqests


I would posit that the fact that Humble Pie is a band makes this line a lovely little double entendre. It can, on its face, refer to a DJ taking requests (is Bitter Fruit a band as well? I've never heard of them), but under the surface it suggests that the DJ must decide between "humble pie," that is, humiliation but forced submission, and "bitter fruit," that is, resisting the requirements of his position and sounding like a prick.

WW

WWWD?

Sysiyo
(acolyte)
04/29/02 08:31 AM
Re: Sometimes a cigar is more than a cigar new [re: WildWind]  

In reply to:

(is Bitter Fruit a band as well? I've never heard of them)


I don't really know, but I imagine Bowie made up a new band called Bitter Fruit to sort of mach up with Humble Pie.

I play among the grapes.

Tristan
(stardust savant)
04/29/02 12:53 PM
Humble Pie. new [re: WildWind]  

In reply to:

Humble Pie is the name of a band.


I saw the original Humble Pie in concert. Does that make me old or cool? Don't answer that unless the answer is cool.

A sound of waves in a pool of water; I'm drowning in my nostalgia. - ds

Sysiyo
(acolyte)
05/02/02 05:03 AM
Re: Humble Pie. new [re: Tristan]  

Tristan, that makes you so c- I mean old.

I play among the grapes.

sondra
(crash course raver)
05/03/02 00:59 AM
Re: Humble Pie. new [re: Tristan]  

ah, you arent old just cause you are telling your age by naming these fantastic concerts you've seen in person! With age comes knowledge & great experiences!
so let's say you are cool , lucky , and old just to cover all the bases!!!

An oldie but a goodie

Did you eat a bowl of stupid for breakfast?
~ ~ ~


ErichJohann
(electric tomato)
05/03/02 09:54 AM
Re: Humble Pie. new [re: sondra]  

In reply to:

With age comes knowledge


... and Knowledge comes with death's release.

And I want to believe
In the madness that calls 'now'


LaughingGnoome
(electric tomato)
05/16/03 07:38 PM
Re: Humble Pie. new [re: EJSunday]  

Firstly i do believe there is a David Jones connection, as some here and elsewhere have said. At the end of the video he spray paints the letters DJ onto a mirror. Therefore they represent initials, also its a mirror he is painting on, in David Bowie symbolism the mirror always means self.

"I'm home, lost my job, and incurably ill
You think this is easy, realism"


I feel this is david describing a possible life he would have lived, had he remained David Jones, instead of becoming David Bowie (You understand im talking about more than a name change here!). "Im home" -> meaning staying in Brixton. "Lost my Job" -> as a young aspiring musician who has just failed. "And incurably ill" -> possibly refers to the development of schizophrenia or other-mental illness in that life (Bowie has confessed in interviews to suffering from slight dementophobia at various stages of his life). Then he sings "You think this is easy, realism", which would mean that that life could not be an easy one to have to live through.
Also being David Bowie is not easy, much harder than just being David Jones, although paradoxically DJ would have had a harder life overall. "Realism" also means making the illusion (of David Bowie) realistic, so people will believe it. David is basically asking credit for playing the role of Bowie so spectacularly that everyone "believes" all the insane stories (pun intended) and rumors/scandals whispered about him.

"I am a D.J., I am what I play"

What is a DJ? an entertainer who plays songs for a crowd of dancers. How many discos have nostalgic seventies and sixties nights even today? The purpose of which is to cater to the specific tastes of the dancers. When David Bowie goes on stage he does the same thing, he plays the old classics, he does a bit of Ziggy etc. "I am what i play" suggests several things, firstly it deals with db personas. When he did glam music, he became the ziggy outrageous character, when he made the dark serious music of S2S, he became the Thin White Duke. He became whatever he had to become at the time to complement the music. "I am what i play" also refers to how people react to each new move, he loses whole reams of fans and gains new ones, so what he is (in the eye of his fans) is up for constant update. The line also refers to the fickle nature of his stardom, in order to remain successful he cannot release bad music, or he will be measured according to that (a theory he would disprove in the next decade!). A DJ also is loved or hated based upon each moment, each song, if he plays a great song, people scream praise, if he dissapoints, everyone screams abuse. "I am what i play" finally is also Bowie saying that he is playing games, he is pretending, people in turn are playing along with him, believing him.

"I've got a girl out there, I suppose
I think she's dancing"


I think this in part could refer to an uncommitted relationship with a specific female, "dancing" means following his career, perhaps profiting from his continued success, reacting to the "music" he chooses. "I got a girl out there I suppose" also could refer to his alleged promiscuity, particularly with his fans (bedding his fans).

"Feel like Dan Dare lies down
I think she's dancing, what do I know?"


Dan Dare is an action hero fictitious character, in this song he appears to be trying to demystify himself. So "Dan Dare lies down" means he is stepping out of the costume, and showing some of his real self. "Dan Dare" was also a popular character, who had his fans to impress. Just like Ziggy (a hero from outer space also). There is possibly a hint of acknowledged betrayal to Ziggy fans, in this statement, action heroes arent supposed to take a break or become selfish.

"I am a D.J., I am what I say"

This is in part a reaction to the media interest in his comments, the liberal media hounded him for years after his flirtation with alleged nazism in the mid seventies. He cannot escape those comments he made, he is (at least in part and temporarily) defined by them, he must live with them. Bowie quite rightly thinks this is stupid, that someone cannot step outside of themselves and make a certain point of view without having it stapled to his back for years. Also "I am what i say" is Bowie saying that he is the puppet-master, he is the one who decides what he is at any time, and other people will dance to his tune, foolish people who can be easily led.

"I got believers (kiss-kiss)
Believing me, oh"


Ah yes, these lines are at the heart of the song, "I am what i play" "i am what i say", why? because he has "believers" who believe all the hype, all the stories and rumors, which only add to his reputation, and make him more interesting, keeping him in the public eye. The double kiss suggests a mutually symbiotic relationship, he entertains and misleads his fans (and helps the journalists and gossip columnists find stories) showing them all a good time, and they in turn feed his career. In part, this is a one fingered salute to the media.

"Can't turn around no, can't turn around, no, oh no"

Sung after "I am What i Play", these lines are a small apology to those fans shocked and dissapointed when he changes his musical style abruptly (eg after "Young Americans").
He cannot redo old territory, he cannot do glam again, or a futuristic album like DD, or folk etc, If he does, it could destroy him. Just like a good DJ, who must amuse and challenge his audience without becoming repetitive, and without ceasing. As someone said it also means DB cannot go back to become DJ, Fame is irreversible. He clearly wouldnt want to anyway, "no, oh no" indicating clear satisfaction with the current situation.

"One more, weekend, of lights and evening faces
Fast food, living nostalgia
Humble pie or bitter fruit"


A DJ's job is to keep everyone happy, by playing a little bit of everything (Like Bowie), Bowie does this, he tries a little bit of every kind of music (Fans Happy), he tries to be commercially successful (keeping his Record Company and himself happy), and he gives the media lots to talk about keeping even them happy. The above lines parody a DJ's life, busiest at weekend, catering to the hurried tastes of the dancers. Also a DJ plays the songs the audience wants to hear (not what he wants to play), Bowie when he goes onstage, must play songs which (it is assumed) the audience expects to hear, China Girl, Lets Dance, Ziggy etc. This is what "living nostalgia" and "fast food" could refer to in this verse. But consider "Humble pie or bitter fruit" in relation to "fast food", he could be saying that the public expects something easily digestible, quickly digestible, so they pin labels on him and believe them. Instead of taking the time needed to "savour" what he is. Then "Humble pie" and "Bitter fruit" could refer to popular images of him, which the public/media seize upon to try and pin down what he is. I think there may be a sexual innuendo in the lyric "humble pie" (hiding his hetero-stud nature) or "bitter fruit"(fruit being a term for a gay man), in the video at this point he is kissed by a guy and then a girl (which he reciprocates).

"Time flies when you're having fun
Break his heart, break her heart"


"Break his heart, break her heart" refers to his fans i think, destroying the various facets of David Bowie just as they become attached to them.

"He used to be my boss and now he is a puppet dancer"

I was thinking Tony Defries, or possibly someone he once emulated but who now follows him. Defries was Bowies manager, Bowie broke with him over financial issues, and Defries was awarded a massive financial stake in all of Bowie's songs up to 1983. "Puppet Dancer would refer to his ex-boss wishing Bowie success (because that would make him richer), so his ex-boss is an enthusiastic fan as well, but not really having any goodwill towards him otherwise
"puppet"=reluctant "dancer". Another possibility is Ziggy, "he used to be my boss" suggesting the powerful hold over him, Ziggy had. But now Ziggy is just a costume, a "puppet" in his hands. "Dancer" suggesting the continuous usefulness of the character (to his career).

In the video, there is a point where he brushes his hair upwards (like Ziggy) then turns around and throws green makeup (or something) at the mirror on the wall (he is singing "cant turn around no" - at this point), he then smashes the mirror, i think this is a reference to his dislike of playing old roles in his career, of doing yesterdays things, instead of new things. But he must do it all the same. At another point in the song, he pulls down huge curtains, these curtains symbolise the illusions he has created in his career (DB as Ziggy, DB as TWD etc), pulling them down symbolises casting them off. And in relation to this song, revealing his own "true" nature underneath (letting some light in).

This song was very cleverly written, comparing himself to a DJ, while using his initials to show that the song is about him "coming clean" about who he really is (or more to the point who he really isnt!).





revidescent
(electric tomato)
05/18/03 11:01 PM
Re: Humble Pie. new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Once again LaughingGnoome, I enjoyed reading your interpretation. Interesting stuff.

Andrée-Anne

I'm an instant star; just add water.

Blooby
(kook)
05/19/03 03:04 AM
Final Curtain new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Great Work, LaughingGnoome, as always!

In reply to:

At another point in the song, he pulls down huge curtains, these curtains symbolise the illusions he has created in his career (DB as Ziggy, DB as TWD etc), pulling them down symbolises casting them off.



What about a connection with his "cave" in L.A. where he lived in '76 and was heavily consuming cocaine? Perhaps the pulling down of the curtains (= the darkness in L.A.) is a symbolic act of leaving this period behind.

Your interpretation of "I am what I play" is really good, I totally agree with that (Bowie's being defined by his current character).


Just because I believe don't mean I don't think as well

LaughingGnoome
(electric tomato)
05/20/03 01:40 PM
Re: Final Curtain new [re: Blooby]  

Thanks to Revidescent and Blooby. It is good to know someone is reading it, it makes it worthwhile.

In reply to:

What about a connection with his "cave" in L.A. where he lived in '76 and was heavily consuming cocaine? Perhaps the pulling down of the curtains (= the darkness in L.A.) is a symbolic act of leaving this period behind.


Well this was released in 79 so written that year or the one before, and so much had happened in between so im not sure it is related to that. The way i see the curtains is Bowie pulling down those things which conceal his true nature from the public (His personas for example), and then letting in the light, which is in a way what the entire song is about. Note the fact that the light which is then allowed in is blinding, note also the fact that after pulling down the curtains he hides on the floor. Bowie is really quite shy.

But you could be right of course.




Kaoru
(mortal with potential)
05/20/03 11:05 PM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: Goblin Queen]  

I don't think so.The DJ thign may simply be about the life of a DJ.How the singer or speaker actually feels,like his life is what music he plays.Or in Bowie's case,it me be his life is what he sings.Well,that's my look on it anyways.

Shine,bright morning light now in the air the spring is coming.Sweet blowing wind singing down the hills and valleys.Keep your eyes on me,now we're on the edge of hell.Dear my love,sweet morning light,wait for me you've gone much farther,too far.

Queen_Bitch_101
(grinning soul)
05/21/03 04:53 PM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: Kaoru]  

Very interesting Laughing Gnoome, as always... I'll only disagree on one point: in the video, he rejects the girl when she wants to kiss him. I've always found that interesting...

The advantage of being clever is that you can play the fool, while the contrary is impossible (Woody Allen)

LaughingGnoome
(electric tomato)
05/22/03 01:45 PM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: Queen_Bitch_101]  

ah i think you have your guys and gals mixed up now, dear

It is the guy who's kiss he is indifferent to, but the girls kiss prompts him to act more passionately (so much so that the camera pans away at the last moment suggesting something naughty occurs then)..




Queen_Bitch_101
(grinning soul)
05/22/03 03:09 PM
Re: DJ - I am What I Play new [re: LaughingGnoome]  

Erm, there's indeed one of us who have a problem with our eyes... I propose you watch the video again, I just did and saw exactly the same than yesterday: 1st of all, Bowie looks bored when he's walking among the crowd. One thing to know, it's the scenes we're talking about were not scheduled: they just walked in London and lots of fans went around Bowie to see what was going on. That makes it even more funnier

Bowie now: not only he accepts to kiss the guy, but he kisses him in return, not even far from the mouth, which has the effect to make his Black new buddy laugh, you've certainly noticed. But you're right though, Bowie looks indifferent: it was just something to do for the video, and that's it. The girl comes just after, and here he looks really bored, hardly lets her kiss him and puts her away. The camera moves away... because there's nothing to see here Maybe you didn't know that the "crowd scene" wasn't scheduled and that people here were really fans, the scene being filmed "live": now I think you will agree that it would have been difficult for Bowie to do something "naughty" with the girl in front of many people .

The advantage of being clever is that you can play the fool, while the contrary is impossible (Woody Allen)


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