Nightclubbing - Iggy Pop - The Idiot (1977)
Updated: Sep 26, 2022
Honky Chateau Miniseries, Pt. 5
It feels like we may be approaching the end of this miniseries, but we still have lots of quality music and music history from the Chateau that is up for grabs. I hope nobody is getting bored.
Today's write up will have a good bit of overlap with some topics we've previously covered, most notably David Bowie's album Low, also released in 1977. In a lot of ways, The Idiot is a bit of a spiritual predecessor to Low, but it stands on its own just fine.
At risk of repeating myself, here is a bit of backstory. I don't know how Bowie and Pop originally met, but they'd been working together a lot through the mid and early 70's. They were both in pretty rough shape in 1976. This was two years after Pop's band The Stooges had broken up, and was also the tail end of Bowie's Alladin Sane / Thin White Duke phase, which I imagine had to be enormously unhealthy on almost all fronts. If you don't want to take my word for it, here are a few photos of these two dudes in concert in the mid 70's. I think the common denominator here was just a lot of cocaine.
Anyways, the two lads retreated to the Chateau to clean their shit up and make some music at the conclusion of Bowie's 1976 Isolar Tour. They made some pretty funky sounds which took various forms. The Idiot is Pop's debut solo album, and was produced by Bowie, who co wrote lots of the songs. This album isn't for everyone, but I've tried to pick a track here that has some curb appeal while still capturing the feel of the album as a whole. I feel like if the original Matrix was somehow a goofy movie, this album would be the soundtrack for the first half of the film in pretty much every scene that isn't shot in a cubicle office room.
In writing Nightclubbing, Pop recalls being in the Chateau with Bowie, when a friend entered the studio with a number of "hideous masks" that each represented "an ancient, old hag". Shortly thereafter, Bowie sat down and played some old timey music on the piano, almost as a joke, presumably in response to the weird masks. Bowie didn't really like the sound, but Pop insisted that it would be a song on the album. Lyrics are exactly what you think they'd be about - Pop describes "experiences tagging along to the discos of Europe" with Bowie in his native land.