If I am honest, the recent death of David Bowie, whilst extremely sad, didn’t affect me as much as it has clearly affected some people.
This is not meant to be disrespectful in the slightest, far from it, and I fully appreciate the huge impact he has had on the world of music, it’s just that I didn’t really grow up listening to his songs, and I am (perhaps to my shame) a little ignorant of his back catalogue. With the exception of some of his more well-known songs, such as ‘Heroes’, ‘Starman’, ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Life on Mars?’ and a handful of others, his music has largely passed me by.
Bowie fans shouldn’t be offended by this, as there are plenty of well-known bands and artists that I have never really listened to, much in the same way there are lots of ‘classic’ films I have never watched (Lord of the Rings, Gladiator, Sharknado 3….)
I know I am not alone here, as many people are clearly now rectifying their ignorance by buying David Bowie albums in their thousands, and I am no exception, having recently invested in ‘Best of Bowie’ – which seemed, after all, a good place to start. I know that makes me come across a little Alan Partridge (“What’s your favourite Beatles album then?”, “Tough one. I think I’d have to say…. ‘The Best of the Beatles’”), but I thought it might help me narrow down which period of Bowie’s considerable – and varied – career I like the best.
Strangely, although his death is undoubtedly a huge loss to the world of music, it was his acting which first brought David Bowie to my attention, and when I heard of his passing, it was 1980s fantasy film Labyrinth which immediately sprang to mind.
Two things then struck me – firstly, I hadn’t seen Labyrinth in years; and secondly, I had never got around to owning the soundtrack. These have both been rectified in the last week or so, thanks to a good friend of mine who sent me a copy of the soundtrack, and Channel 5 who showed the film on Sunday.
Having played some of the soundtrack to Ollie in the car, he was enjoying the songs and was keen to see the film, so we sat down on Sunday evening and had a ‘cinema night’.
I have to admit, when I watched Labyrinth again for the first time in years, I was relieved to find that it was still distinctly watchable, despite ageing quite badly. This is in contrast to The NeverEnding Story, which I re-watched a few months ago for the first time since childhood, and discovered to my dismay that it is, largely, shit. Thank God the title isn’t literal, and it does actually end.
Anyway, as I sat with Ollie and re-watched Labyrinth, there were a few things I noticed which had clearly passed me by when I was younger. Here they are, in no particular order.
David Bowie’s crotch
Ok, it’s not like I was staring or anything, but how could you fail to spot it? He might as well have had a flashing neon sign on his stomach pointing downwards. I mean, look at the damn thing:
Poor Hoggle is at a dangerous height there. It would only take Bowie to trip and fall forwards, and Hoggle is getting a face full of premium ‘80s todger.
The ‘romance’ element
In the film, Bowie’s character (Jareth, the ‘Goblin King’), is trying to keep Jennifer Connelly’s character (Sarah) in the Labyrinth forever, by getting her to fall in love with him. Sarah is supposed to be sixteen in the film (and Connelly was actually fifteen when the film was released), whereas Bowie and his gloriously protruding man-sausage were a few weeks off turning 40. That’s really not ok by anyone’s standards.
Besides, I was hardly a hit with the ladies throughout my teens, but even I knew that the way to seduce a girl was not to kidnap her baby brother, lock her up in a giant maze, and then frighten the shit out of her by putting make-up and a pair of tight jeggings on.
I’d never noticed this before, but how much does Ludo look like Neil from The Young Ones?
The questionable lyrics
As a child of the 1980s, there are two sets of lyrics that my generation all know off by heart – the opening sequence to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and the introductory rhyme from ‘Magic Dance’ (you know, the “You remind me of the babe”, “What babe?”, “Babe with the power” bit). I can only assume we were taught these as part of the National Curriculum, as there is no other explanation for the fact that everyone in their thirties can, without exception, recite them in full.
I must have switched off after the intro though, because I had never previously noticed the line “Put that magic jump on me, slap that baby make him free”. Really? It’s bad enough that Bowie’s character is enslaving and grooming underage girls, but now he’s beating up infants too. Still, dodgy lyrics aside, it was nice to hear ‘Magic Dance’ again after all this time, and it gave me a warm feeling inside that only a few things can (nostalgia, Ready Brek, Jagerbombs…), so I decided to turn a blind eye.
However, things got really weird when we reached the song performed by those little red fire creatures in the woods. By this point, I had started to pay attention to the lyrics (or, at least, what I perceived the lyrics to be), and had to rewind back a few times in case my ears were deceiving me. After a while, this started to piss Ollie off, so I decided I would have to listen to the soundtrack instead, in my own time, to try and work out what the words actually are.
Now, before I go on, I know I don’t have the lyrics correct – they don’t make any sense for starters – but they are honestly what I picked out from multiple plays of the song, and I have written them down without checking to see how close I am to the actual words. It’s a bit like the lyrics round on Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
I can only assume that the characters Jimmy Dowel and Dick Small (the latter sounding like the sort of part – excuse the pun – that Leslie Nielsen might have played), were cut from the final edit of Labyrinth, due to their apparent experimentation with alcohol, magic mushrooms and other stronger narcotics (possibly to help ease their arthritis). Not to mention the fact that they are clearly embroiled in some kind of love triangle with Anna Reeling (I’m not sure who she is, but she appears to have unusual breasts), whilst working as musicians in a nudist nightclub / soup kitchen.
Don’t believe me? Ok, here’s the song in full – from the soundtrack – for you to listen along as you read what I believe the lyrics to be:
When the sun goes down (when the sun goes down)
And the bands are back to front (and the bands are back)
The brother’s gone brown (the brother’s gone brown)
I get out of my dirty pants (my dirty pants)
I shake my pretty little head (shake my pretty little head)
Tap my pretty little feet (tap my pretty little feet)
It’s brighter than sunlight
Louder than thunder
Dancing like a yo-yo
Don’t have no problems (no problems)
Ain’t got no soup face (no soup face)
Ain’t got no clothes to worry about (no clothes to worry about)
Ain’t got no real snake or jewellery on my exterior
There’s snow in my hair
We’re the cheeriest bunch in the land
They don’t know much
They can’t go to jail
They positively grow blow
Jimmy Dowel with the fungus
Dick Small with the fungus
Bad hip, let me focus
When you think its fog
Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (hey, I’m a wild child)
Act tall with the fungi (oh, walk tall)
Looked up, bad boobs (yeah)
When you think its wine
Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel.
Driving crazy, pretty lazy
Eye rolling, fungus throwing
Ball playing, hips swaying
Trouble making, booty shaking
Dripping, passing, dropping, bouncing
Dryin’, stylin’, creeping, pouncing
Shouting, screaming, double-dealing
Rock ‘n’ roll and Anna Reeling
With the knackered sex appeal
Can you think I’m groovy? Feel it.
So when things get too tough (get too tough)
And your chick is dragging on the ground (dragging on the ground)
And your granddad looks up (gran looks up)
Bad luck! (Ha ha ha ha)
We can show you a good time (show you a good time)
And we don’t charge, nuttin’ (nuttin’ at all)
Just stretch your nasty stuff
Wriggle in your middle, yeah
Get it down, talking fine. Dang.
Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (Dick Small)
Dick Small with the fungus (bad hip)
Bad hips, let me focus (hey, listen up)
When you think its fog
Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (ah, shake your pretty little leg)
Act tall with the fungi (tap your booty like a bee)
Looked up, bad boobs (come on, come on)
When you think its wine
Jimmy Dowel, Jimmy Dowel with the fungus (whooo?)
Dick Small with the fungus (ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha)
Bad hip, let me focus…
(instrumental to fade)
Now, tell me I’m wrong.
So, in conclusion, Labyrinth (and its accompanying soundtrack) remains entertaining, extremely camp and, above all else, utterly bonkers.
It’s exactly what David Bowie would have wanted.