In my continuing series of essays in "Death Of A Salesman," I would like to address Bowie's Young Americans album. I feel with this album, Bowie specifically went after the black American market. Why would I say that?
There were many changes with the Young Americans album. For the first time, Bowie is working with black musicians. For the first time, he is making black soul music. For the first time, Bowie jettisoned white British rock and rollers for black rhythm and blues guitarists, singers, bassists and drummers culled from the Apollo theatre.
For the first time, Bowie is addressing the black American audience, drawing them in. He mentions "Afro Sheeners," "Soul Train," "pimps, hustlers" and the "ghetto." Young Americans is a black protest song. In this song, the whites are shallow and dishonest, and the blacks are the enduring, suffering "survivors." Why so you think Bowie is writng a song like this? Why, besides the obvious artistic excellence of the song?
Bowie states why. Bowie sings, "I want the Young American." Bowie is not secretive. He does not need be. Bowie is making great black music to broaden his appeal. This is simply good thinking. Why exclude an entire race of people from your audience? During the Station To Station tour I noticed for the first time black Americans attending his concerts.
I love the Young Americans album. It rocks. However, one cannot deny the strategy behind it. Bowie had already conquered white Britain. He had already conquered white America. After Young Americans, Bowie would always use black musicians and have a black audience.
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'a continuing series of essays'... Lord preserve us.