Music

David Bowie wanted to write a musical with fake Bob Dylan songs and aliens

David Bowie’s musical Lazarus made it’s debut at the end of 2015, one of the final pieces of work from the iconic artist. It tells the story of a man stuck on earth, unable to die, who meets another lost soul.

It is apparently not at all what Bowie had planned when he first began pondering a musical a decade earlier.

Writer Michael Cunningham, in a piece for GQ this week, said he and Bowie collaborated on the seeds of a musical back in 2003 (before Bowie’s heart attack derailed the project). And what would it have been about?

“David reluctantly told me that he imagined the musical taking place in the future. The plot would revolve around a stockpile of unknown, unrecorded Bob Dylan songs, which had been discovered after Dylan died. David himself would write the hitherto-unknown songs.”

That’s correct: One of the most famous and influential artists of the 20th century wanted to write a musical, centered around non-existent works from one of the other most famous and influential artists of the 20th century.

Cunningham continues on.

“It was not what I’d been expecting. Yes, David had recorded ‘Song for Bob Dylan,’ for the album Hunky Dory, in 1971, but that was a song about Bob Dylan; it wasn’t a song supposedly written by Bob Dylan.

Who could write a convincing fake Dylan song? Well, okay, that would be David Bowie, if anyone, but who (including David Bowie) would want to? And how would the actual Bob Dylan feel about that?”

The musical would also have involved aliens, and the poet Emma Lazarus.

The two got to a point where they were constructing early drafts of the script and playing around with tunes, when Bowie suffered a heart attack. The project was dropped, and never picked up again, Cunningham says.

Bowie died one year ago today – Jan. 10, 2016 – after a battle with cancer.

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