SciFi SongFest, Songs 97-99

Kipling’s verses here employ stress in engineering and architecture as a metaphor for unendurable stress on the human mind and/or body, while Bowie’s exemplify that stress in his own howl of angry resentment at the illness that was killing him. (Thus the sci-fi hook – engineering and architecture for Kipling [plus Fish and Ecklar are best known for their sci-fi work], physiology and medicine for Bowie, psychology for both. A stretch, I know.) Both were written in the final years of their respective authors’ lives, both raging in pain and anguish at the dying of the light:

97. Rudyard Kipling (words 1935), Julia Ecklar & Leslie Fish (music 1983), “Hymn of Breaking Strain”:

Kipling’s lyrics remind me of Robert Heinlein’s lines, in Stranger in a Strange Land, about Rodin’s sculpture The Fallen Caryatid: “this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude until they crumpled under their loads…. she’s still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her …. she’s all the unsung heroes who couldn’t make it but never quit.”

But while Kipling’s verses end on a note of hope, Bowie’s end with a snarling refusal and then a sudden silence:

98. David Bowie, “Killing a Little Time” (2016):

Fittingly, the final Bowie song in this SciFi SongFest. But not the final entry, by any means. I have enough material picked out to last through Hallowe’en, which seems like as good a time as any to stop.

On a less depressing note ….

99. Jemaine Clement (vocals) and Lin-Manuel Miranda (words & music), “Shiny”:

This song, from the film Moana, was intended as a tribute to David Bowie – both his vocal style and his (formerly) glam wardrobe:

There’s even a version online that purports to be recorded by Bowie himself. It’s a fake, but a very skillful and enjoyable fake – imitating the voice of later Bowie just as the movie version imitates the voice of earlier Bowie:


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