Saturday, April 2, 2011

Currently listening to...

...the classic Bowie song "Heroes." I first heard this song one Friday or Saturday night when I was a young boy... my parents would go to bed and let me stay up to watch "Midnight Special" or "Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" or whatever was on after 11PM--or even after 1AM! There I was, on the shag carpet in front of the TV, when Bowie's silhouette appeared, long and slim, seeming to float in a wash of bright light. The image was stark and otherworldy. But what really got me was the sound--that sound. How to describe it? A magical, heart-stopping wall of sound that seemed to pulse from another dimension, a rumbling, reverberating drone... a roaring that could be a billion heartbeats, the grinding of time itself. I mean, come on... what else sounded like this at that time? Nothing. Bowie and genius Brian Eno created a sonic texture never heard before.

And then there's Bowie's stunning vocal performance... screaming out with emotion, his voice breaking as he howls out images that evoke concentration camps or the divided Berlin, where the song was recorded. I have heard "Heroes" probably a million times over the years, but I can still think back to that time when the sound of the music and his voice were startling, improbable, but so inexplicably fresh. Watch him perform "Heroes" and see and hear for yourself... try to feel it again like it is the first time.



As you can imagine, "Heroes" has become one of Bowie's signature songs and he has performed it many times over the years. Below is a dedicated, energetic version he performed at Live Aid in 1985...


Growing old gracefully, here is Bowie performing a soaring, anthemic version of "Heroes" in 2006...



Of course with a song this great, many artists and bands have been compelled to cover this song over the decades. Some versions I love as much as the original (it is a song that is hard to ruin, afterall). Below are some highlights of this much-loved and oft-covered song...

Peter Gabriel sings a devastatingly beautiful, trembling, painful version of "Heroes." A studio version of this can be found on his "Scratch My Back" release.
At the 2:40 mark, listen to a genuine goosebump moment as Gabriel cries out and everything falls away but those high strings, hanging there, shimmering...


Australia's national treasure, Iva Davies, does a lovely and faithful version. His elegiac studio recording of "Heroes" can be found on "The Berlin Tapes," a marvelous collection of cover songs from various artists, beautifully interpreted by Davies...


English band Kasabian offers up a fantastic, down n' dirty psychedelic cover...


And just for fun, here is Gregorian doing a perfectly dignified version...

1 comment:

Thombeau said...

Ooh, I especially like the "Gregorian" version!