The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s
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The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s

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3.55 of 5 stars 3.55  ·  rating details  ·  166 ratings  ·  33 reviews
The Man Who Sold the World is a critical study of David Bowie's most inventive and influential decade, from his first hit, "Space Oddity," in 1969, to the release of the LP Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) in 1980. Viewing the artist through the lens of his music and his many guises, the acclaimed journalist Peter Doggett offers a detailed analysis—musical, lyrical, conce...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published July 31st 2012 by Harper (first published September 1st 2011)
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Edmole
Many years ago when I was in my late teens/early twenties I was obsessed with the Beatles and I would rattle on about the Beatles all the time. My local library had a lot of Beatles books, to the extent that they had TWO Yoko Ono biogs, both of which I read. So I thought I was pretty up on the Beatles. But then Ian MacDonald's Revolution In The Head came out. Rather than the usual rock-biog arc (form, fun, fucking, signed, success, snorting, bored, broke, boring, slips, switch, splitting) it wen...more
Daniel Brockman
I really, really enjoyed Doggett's previous book, "You Never Give Me Your Money", a fascinating tome about the Beatles that actually covered Things I Didn't Already Know, ie the band's slow and lumbering breakup and decade-long post-Beatles solo-period torment. In that book, Doggett managed to dish about the band's personal lives, give a behind-the-scenes of their business dealings with a detail that was both interesting and revelatory, and save some fairly unique insight into the music, both gr...more
Tosh
Via my work as the book buyer at Book Soup, I received a galley of Peter Doggett's mega book on David Bowie - "The Man Who Sold The World." I know, another new book on Bowie, but gosh darn it he's a fascinating figure. And Doggett goes through all the songs by Bowie (including unreleased tunes) through out the 70's and also including the more obscure 1960's material. So the book is a biography on Bowie as well as a critical analysis of Bowie's work. Or a narrative via his songs

And yeah I guess t...more
Lindig
While I think Bowie is a genius, I am no musicologist so a discussion of a song and its chord changes means nothing to me. On the whole, the author has managed to make Bowie boring, which he never was. Too bad.
Sharon
Peter Doggett's "The Man Who Sold The World" is a musicological examination of what the author calls David Bowie's "long 1970s": the period from 1964-1980.

Doggett looks at every song individually, then the context of each album and even the films in which Bowie appeared during the time. In discussing the complexities (and sometimes the simplicities) of each song from a scholarly perspective, he demonstrates Bowie's versatility and challenges as an artist. Not everything Bowie did hit the mark as...more
Iain
A bit of a disappointment from a usually good music writer. Here Pete Doggett attempts to examine and explain Bowie’s 70’s work by systematically writing about each of his songs in chronological order.
The idea is inspired by Ian MacDonald’s excellent book Revolution In The Head where he does a similar thing to the work of The Beatles. Indeed MacDonald was attached to this project before his tragic suicide.

Sadly though this book offers very little for Bowie nuts and casual fans alike. The main pr...more
Anthony
I was a David Bowie fan.

After reading Doggett's chronicle of Bowie's iconoclastic decade of creativity and stardom I have been converted to a David Bowie fanatic. Reading through this account of Bowie's prolific period spanning 1969-1980 I listened to each of the albums discussed and rediscovered the many voices of Bowie's artistic imprint. The singles that I've loved are now fleshed out in context with their albums and the ground-breaking efforts that motivated Bowie and inspired his would-be f...more
Darren
I really enjoyed Doggett's book about the break-up of the Beatles (You Never Give Me Your Money) and I am a diehard Bowie fan, so expected to get a lot out of this.

Perhaps it's because I've read so much about Bowie that this was such a disappointment. Doggett is not a Bowie scholar of the calibre of Kevin Cann or Nicholas Pegg (or Chris O'Leary, with his superlatively detailed and intuitive blog Pushing Ahead of the Dame). His reading of Bowie's work was often based on half-baked interpretation...more
Sade
Feb 10, 2013 Sade rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: music
Before beginning this book, I recommend you get your Bowie musical library dusted off (whatever format or formats it currently resides in) and in order. Although I've listened faithfully over the years, some songs I just could not bring to mind - for instance, I can easily visualize the cartoon for "Sell Me A Coat", but what the hell does it sound like?? No idea.

Non-musicians will probably be at more of a loss, as terms like I-iv-IV-V and Fsus7 are used with only a cursory explanation given earl...more
Jennie
Close to Nicolas Pegg's book, but not as complete.

The attention to detail and fact finding would stump even Mr. Bowie himself. I wasn't around to see this decade but really enjoyed the musical references and cultural happenings noted. I was sad to see Mr. Doggett's gloss over his Labyrinth role, and pan most of his 80s and 90s music. I discovered David in the 80s and find that time in his career both uninspired and inspiring; carefully planned I'm sure.

Great gift for a major Bowie fan, specifica...more
Lionel
There is a point when the music journalist can get too deep into every detail surrounding the making of the music, sacrificing a narrative flow of any kind. Useful as it is to chronologically explain every song as it is composed, Bowie was prolific enough that foregoing some of this detail in favor of some of the happenings in the world to provide context for the albums as they were written.
A necessary book for the avid fan, and I understand this, but falls short on the literature end of things...more
Knox Bronson
This is an amazing, song-by-song analysis of Bowie's incredible body of work. The author looks at a song in a musicological sense: chord changes, key changes, melodic, rhythmic, and so on, including Bowie's singing and societal context of the song, and also what was going on in Bowie's life. I apologize for the awful syntax here, but I'm learning how to dictate via Siri. It's a process.
Misty
3.5 stars. I found it tedious at times, and therefore boring
James Lark
As thorough and insightful book as has ever been written about Bowie's work, this is an excellent read and made me revisit Bowie's music in a completely new way. In particular, the incredible leaps in Bowie's development from 'The Man Who Sold The World' to 'Aladdin Sane' were brought home in a way I've never appreciated before. There are conclusions that some people might have a problem with - I know people who would be incensed by the suggestion that 'Lodger' is a record that didn't need to be...more
Stargazer
A good read which led me into 2 nights of Bowie, one on vinyl and one on youtube chasing some of the tracks I hadn't heard which were unreleased (and hours of old interviews, I'd have been constantly on the computer had it been available when I was younger!)

Is that really where 'squawking like a pink monkey bird' comes from - gay slang? Never knew that!

Of personal interest was the fact that in 1967 Bowie was offered the lead role in a screenplay based around the Offenbach opera 'Orpheus in the U...more
Matthew
By all accounts Peter Doggett has written one of the most respected books about the Beatles, it seems a bit of a shame that he decided to do the same here. Honestly a page doesn't go by when he doesn't mention the fab four in one way or another, if you can't find enough of interest to write about Bowie then really you shouldn't be writing this book. At times he seems to almost loathe the man as well and you really feel that he wrote this book because he could, rather than because he actually wan...more
David Manns
Doggett's 'You Never Give Me Your Money" is one of the great books about The Beatles, or more specifically the tangled web of financial affairs the Fabs enmeshed themselves in through bad management and naive idealism. Another great Beatles book (bear with me, I'm getting to Bowie), is Revolution In The Head, by Ian MacDonald, where every Beatles song is analysed in the order of composition.

MacDonald was contracted to write a similar book about Bowie and the 70's, but sadly died before starting...more
Chris Craddock
The Man Who Sold The World: David Bowie and the 1970s by Peter Doggett is a delicious concoction of hushed tones of awed reverence mixed with the sour grapes of snarky dismissal that describes, song by song, in Doggett style, the music of David Bowie during the 1970s, a decade of fragmentation and decadence that Bowie virtually defined. The era of the 70s, as reckoned by Doggett, runs from 1969 to 1980, and is book-ended by Bowie's "Space Oddity" from 1969, and "Ashes to Ashes" in 1980, where Ma...more
Stephen
Bring your iPod.

Peter Doggett's, "The Man Who Sold the World: David Bowie and the 1970s," takes a song-by-song approach in considering what it contends was a decade of groundbreaking, culture-shaping musical creation by its famous subject.

This work truly offers everything you ever wanted to know about David Bowie, but were afraid to ask. Doggett is the possessor of much information that will be of interest to fans of the Thin Gray Duke, bytes of data that fill in spaces and explain the unexpla...more
Paul Harris
Oh dear, where to start?

Firstly, I freely admit that there are parts of this book that went right over my head. When the author writes about how a song uses F# to G flat and blah blah blah... well, I'm no musician and I'm lost. That I can put up with, as, although that kind of remark is used often, it doesn't dominate what the author is talking about.

Far, far worse for me was the dismissive tone of the whole book. Bowie's earliest songs are described in terms of how derivative they are - fair en...more
Roger Blakesley
Absolutely horrible book. While it contained a lot of information on individual songs and Bowie's history, it was spliced together in a most unpleasant way. But one has to admire the extensive footnotes and appendices; those were at least useful for me to catalogue my Bowie vinyl, FLAC and CD collections.

The book was full of pretentious, precious linguistics; it read like the back liner notes of a 1970s Dylan album. I think the author used every single pompous music review buzzword except, "inso...more
Victoria Moore
Spanning from the 1960s to the present time writer Peter Doggett took on the challenging task of examining David Bowie's songs and albums in a series of essays that allows the reader to know the real artist in this non-fiction book that straddles the line between expose and rock reportage. Fashionable, eccentric and ahead of his time Bowie's story is shocking, funny and memorable. My favorite part of the book (probably because I'm such a huge fan) was the 1970s, especially the Ziggy Stardust ye...more
Ellen
This book has some very boring parts and isn't very engaging, but documents a lot of songs and has some interesting reviews.
Sean O'kane
This is what I have been waiting for - THE definitive biography of that increadible flush of creativity that was Bowie in the 'long 70s' (1969-80). Song by song (inclduing many unreleased ones) Doggett examines the musical, personal and temporal context of each to reveal a rich complex chamelonic personality that never stood still in the 1970s. A highly recommended read even if you are a fairweather fan.
Mike Schwartz
What Iain MacDonald’s Revolution in the Head was for The Beatles this book does for Bowie fans. Namely, examines every song in the Bowie discography, with copious notes and analysis of every song, every album, every film performance, every theater piece, every work of art Bowie ever created. Completely essential for Bowie fans.

Ben Hughes
A sometimes overly academic look at the peak of David Bowie's career. If you're a fan, (and I couldn't imagine why any non-fan would want to read this) this book provides some very interesting insight and context into Bowie's music, song by song. Reading this book happily forced me to expand my collection of Bowie's recordings.
Tony Mize
Some blinkered misinterpretations, and altogether too many attempts to describe sings in terms of notation and chord changes, which meant nothing to me. And a bit too many lazy comparisons to John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. Still - a serious look at Bowie, well-written, and heart felt, that left me wanting more.
Fiona Robson
Thoroughly enjoyed this read - examining the meaning of Bowie's songs of the '70's. Had to take some of the stories with a pinch of salt because, as the author atests, Bowie has many different stories about the same event/song. Very well written and researched.
Bethnoir
occasionally interesting, but a lot of twaddle and unfounded theories bogged this analysis of Bowie songs down. Only managed to get half way through. It's more of a book to own and dip into than read right through.
Peter Landau
To be read bookended with "Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties" by Ian MacDonald. But who would be the defining figure to chart the cultural changes of the '80s?
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Peter Doggett has been writing about popular music, the entertainment industry and social and cultural history since 1980. A regular contributor to Mojo, Q and GQ, his books include The Art and Music of John Lennon, a volume detailing the creation of the Beatles’ Let It Be and Abbey Road albums; the pioneering study of the collision between rock and country music, Are You Ready for the Country? an...more
More about Peter Doggett...
You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup Are You Ready for the Country: Elvis, Dylan, Parsons and the Roots of Country Rock There's A Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of '60s Counter-Culture Lou Reed: Growing Up in Public Abbey Road/Let It Be : The Beatles (Classic Rock Albums Series)

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