By 2004 David Bowie had begun to realise his position as an icon of rock and roll. Sure, the Starman had been a figurehead of music for a few decades now but by the time of the 21st century, the ever-evolving performer had finally started to admit it.
It meant that more and more of his shows started to reflect his ginormous back catalogue rather than its most recent or obscure moments. One such performance came in Wantagh where Bowie delivered a scintillating performance of an iconic song, ‘Station to Station’.
A track that many have used to surmise his treacherous cocaine years, ‘Station to Station’ has always held a special place in David Bowie’s heart. As he readied himself to perform it in 2004 he said, “Seventies aficionados, [it] might not be your 1970s, but these were my 1970s. This is one called ‘Station to Station.’”
So what were Bowie’s seventies all about? Well, if you go by the aforementioned statement then running parallel to the song’s themes Bowie’s seventies were all about cocaine and the occultist Aleister Crowley. Judging by that remark, we think he had a good time.
The title track from the album released in 1976, the song has always been regarded as one of Bowie’s finest largely because it is unashamedly brutal. Candid to the point of confusion it captures Bowie during one of his most trepidatious periods. Not only was he taking copious amounts of cocaine but he was also in the middle of a musical transition.
The album reflected the final moments of the funk and soul experiment Young Americans and the pathway through Krautrock to Bowie’s Berlin trilogy. In many ways, for that reason, the album sticks out as a bit of an anomaly.
“First, there’s the content, which nobody’s actually been terribly clear about. The ‘Station to Station’ track itself is very much concerned with the stations of the cross. All the references within the piece are to do with the Kabbalah. It’s the nearest album to a magick treatise that I’ve written. I’ve never read a review that really sussed it. It’s an extremely dark album. Miserable time to live through, I must say”
Looking back now, and Bowie doing the same in 2004, he was able to extract the good points of the track and accentuate for the happy masses at his shows. Perhaps what landed it with some extra gravitas was the inclusion of Earl Slick in the band who had worked on the original song back in 1976.
You can watch below as Bowie reintroduces the world to ‘Station to Station’ below.