This is an homage to David Bowie. But I have to get a couple of things off my chest first:
I have never been, nor will I ever be, a fan of Pepsi.
And, when I was a child, I was a super fan of Tina Turner.
I always thought Pepsi too sweet. I always thought Turner a heroine of the microphone, whose roller coaster life and career apexed in miraculous form in the 80s, about the time I was developing my own unique musical tastes.
Turner was also the first musician I’d ever seen live in concert. 1984, maybe. Birmingham. Where I grew up.
So when I saw her in an epic Pepsi commercial, performing with an elegantly handsome, skinny, almost-mod-looking oddity – with a song that instantly brought me to my feet – I knew something special had happened in my life.
“Modern Love” had been out a few years, but sadly, under my post-pubescent high school rock, I’d missed it. I’d certainly heard of Bowie. Shit, someone at school told me Mick Jagger sang about his wife. That was a big deal. But I didn’t realize he was as dynamic and stirring as the man in that cola commercial. God, where had I been?
Now I know what you’re going to say: Steve. You can’t personify such a creative genius – a human gift, to be sure – from some goofy 80s Pepsi ad. That’s a ridiculous stretch.
Oh yes I can. Because that ad sent me to Magic Platter Records to buy the album Let’s Dance. And that album spun on my turntable night after night, with the spectacular “China Girl” and the haunting “Cat People.” And, of course, this danceable, tranceable “Modern Love.”
And Let’s Dance sent me to Scary Monsters and Young Americans and Station to Station and, eventually – thankfully – to Ziggy Stardust.
My modern love had come by way of television. And it endures much better and longer than any sugary-sweet carbonated drink.
I’d like to raise a Coke to that.