I’ve been listening to several new albums by favourite artists in recent weeks. The Pet Shop Boys’ Elysium is fantastic. Bob Dylan’s Tempest is growing on me. Ian McCulloch’s Pro Patria Mori is an instant pleasure full of his characteristic melodies.
The latter two albums contain homages: Dylan’s song ‘Roll on John’ is about John Lennon, a peer who’s been dead for over 30 years, and McCulloch’s ‘Me and David Bowie’ is about Bowie, an idol and mentor who’s still alive but retired and not much in the public eye.
Dylan sings about Lennon the myth and legend: the result of Lennon’s ongoing popularity and relevance many years after his death. McCulloch writes as a younger man concerned for the health of an older man, asking if everything is alright given the context that Bowie’s unofficial retirement is believed to have been necessitated by poor health.
McCulloch’s healthy ego (he routinely closes gigs with the announcement ‘you’ve just seen the greatest band of all time’) has him boldly asking Bowie ‘remember when you met me?’ rather than remarking on remembering when he met Bowie. It’s also touching: Mac credits Bowie with teaching him how to look cool in his overcoat.