This week marks the 21st birthday of a remarkable album that was released by an even more remarkable and distinguished artist. In Australia on September 25th 1995 I left for school on a bright and warm spring morning as normal. However, today I wasn’t going to school. I was going into the city in search of a new album, 1. Outside. Its author, David Bowie was by then 48 years of age and once more, getting under the skin of the good music industry folk. Why may you ask? Well, he’d just gone and got a little fucked up again by releasing an album that was a tough listen for most people and was never going to sell by the bucket load. Most of all, he had gone cutting edge again by appealing to a younger generation.
The first inclination that Bowie was moving in exciting new circles came a year earlier in late 1994 when he submitted the Nathan Adler Diaries for publication in Q magazine. It made for macabre reading yet exciting all the same. As a teenager myself, it was fresh, exciting and a left field approach. Remember, this was an era where Ace of Base and The Spin Doctors were top of the pops so getting something obscure was like a breath of fresh air. Most of all, Bowie and Brian Eno were working together again for the first time since 1979! And that final colaberation of the 70’s, Lodger just so happened to produce one of the coolest video clips ever made. “Boys Keep Swinging”!
I ended up in the city of Brisbane at around 8:30 am. With a touch of anticipation, I made my way to various local record stores in hope of getting a copy as the doors opened. Brashes, Rocking Horse, Skinny’s, Kent Records and Galaxy Music. Nobody had it but many confided that deliveries would be in around lunch time so I would have to check back. And check back I did. Many times at all the stores through the afternoon with no luck. Nobody had a copy. It appeared I would have to wait another day for this highly anticipated release.
The following day I was skiving off school again. Once more a day spent gathering copious tea spoons of disappointment as once more, 1. Outside was not in stock and would not be in stock. It proved to be a highly frustrating and upsetting day for yours truly, then only a meager 18 years old. For the second day running I would be heading home feeling glum. First world problems ey?
Wednesday rolled around and I was prepared to take one final chance at skiving off school to head to the city and hope the deliveries would arrive with what I wanted. The morning proved to be another fruitless search as once more the early deliveries turned up precisely zero copies of 1. Outside. I was seriously beginning to wonder if this was some kind of sick joke by Bowie’s Australian label, BMG. Were they taking the piss? Did they realize that I was running the risk of getting caught our taking three consecutive days off school to lay my hands on a copy of the album?
I’d been teased a few weeks before when the first single release from 1. Outside, “The Hearts Filthy Lesson” was released and failed to dent the charts. The video clip itself was something else. A real head fuck is one way of putting it. I loved it. I adored it. I watched it over and over and over again on my VHS player. It’s still, to this day one of my all time fave Bowie cuts. How does a 48 year old manage to look so good in PVC and make-up?
My third day off school was unraveling right before my eyes. All the staff in the multitude of record stores that I had now been harassing for days on end were beginning to get sick to the back teeth of me. I didn’t care. All I wanted was my own copy of 1. Outside. One chap in Rocking Horse even told me a BMG rep had been in a week before to play a copy to them. Surely he was lying? After all, I was Brisbane’s self appointed “biggest Bowie fan” so where was my invite?
My savings were running low after three days of wandering the city, buying food and drinks. Not to mention all the bus fares in and out of town from the suburbs. Ohh, and you should remember this was the age of Sony Walkman’s. So yes, I was even churning through batteries by the bucket load. My sister had a discman but she was filthy rich in my eyes because she had a job. There was no way in hell she would let me borrow it either. You know how it is with older siblings right? As the clock chimed over to 4 pm I was starting to feel as though it just was not going to happen again. It was time to make one last round of the record stores. One final fling before heading home again with my tail trailing between my legs.
Just as I was about to give up hope, I wandered into Skinny’s and saw the recently arrived deliveries on the floor near the counter. They were unopened so I was going to stand around and wait for them to be slashed open to reveal hundreds of copies of 1. Outside. The staff saw me and knew it was time to hit those boxes. The first few provided no love. Then, with just a couple of boxes to go, I noticed one of them pulling out a fist full of CD’s that included my holy grail! At last! It was going to be mine! Hold on a minute. It was a hefty $34.99! I only had $35 left to my name so I was no in a situation of having no way home because the bus fare was a ludicrous $5.20 to Springwood! Ohh well, that was a problem for a later time in the day. I was buying the fucking album if it was going to kill me!
Packed into a brown paper bag and in my ruck sack, I headed to the bus stop near by and had to plead my case for a free ride home. Fingers crossed for a friendly driver. As it turns out, the driver was a regular who took pity on me and allowed me to take that free ride home. It seemed like an eternity to get home though, when I did, my bedroom became my escape from three days of frustration as I put the CD onto my tacky little stereo and began to explore the rich depths of a beautiful album. There were so many layers. So much texture. Endless possibilities to explore.
It was a long three days in my life at the time yet, a period of time I remember so vividly and will never forget for as long as I live for so many beautiful reasons.