Love Letter To A Record: Joan As Police Woman On David Bowie’s ‘Station to Station’

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this Love Letter To A Record series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Joan As Police Woman – David Bowie, Station to Station, (1976)

Dear Bowie’s Station to Station,

You are a beast.

You entered my life with ‘Station To Station’, a somewhat impenetrable opus. I know you have abandonment issues so I stuck with you through this difficult 10-minute first impression. I do appreciate the entry by train. Very vibey. I like your vibes. Thank you for giving me room to dance through this hazing period. You showed me your many facets (prog) and insecurities (love) right at the top and I took the liberty to interpret this as a display of trust in me. I did worry that you may have an acute personality disorder until you let me know of your profound problem with cocaine. To quote your song, honey, it’s never too late for anything.

‘Golden Years’ changed how I thought about music. This track effortlessly melds all your influences. I delight in listening to the rhythm section, Dennis Davis and George Murray, plus Carlos Alomar on guitar (known as the D.A.M. Trio). Thank you for having the wits to choose the absolute best players. I wish I could have been there to hear this track debut on the radio. It must have blown minds.

You had hinted at being a romantic but ‘Word On A Wing’ was the confirmation I needed. “In this age of grand illusion, you walked into my life out of my dreams”. I feel the same, my darling. Your vocal harmonies are truly regal. Remember when Iggy (Pop) thought his girlfriend had been swallowed by the TV? Drugs are amazing aren’t they? I’m glad you didn’t try to crawl into the TV set like you had threatened. It’s better out here…. especially when this tune is an absolute banger.

‘Stay’ just slays me. “Stay, that’s what I meant to say, or do something, but what I never say is stay this time, I really meant to so bad this time, ‘cause you can never really tell when somebody wants something you want too”. Is there anyone who hasn’t felt this way? ….tripping over words and thoughts and self-doubt? But who has had the nerve to admit it, let alone write it into a fluid funk-soul song that feels like it’s flying just above a misty lake? The answer is you. I love you for this.

I remember you being so enamoured with Nina Simone when you met in 1975. You had said her version of ‘Wild Is The Wind’ “really affected me… I recorded it as an homage to Nina.” I didn’t get to see her until 2000 and this song was not on the setlist. You chose to present it in the style of Nina rather than the original recording by Johnny Mathis. I am glad you did. It is gorgeous and sorrowful: a time-tested winning combination.

For a woman who loves a challenge, you are the one for me. You check all the boxes: melodic, complex, loving, wild, innovative, groovy, troubled, drug-addled……

Station To Station, I love you.

All my heart,

Joan As Police Woman

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