BowieZone.com has done a fantastic interview with Mike Garson all about his new Reference Recordings release “The Bowie Variations.” We’ll give you some of the great quotes here, and give you the link to the full interview!
BowieZone: Your new album has been a long time coming Mike, as far as the content goes I mean. I personally have been waiting for many years for a Mike Garson album of Bowie songs. What has made you decide that now was the right time for The Bowie Variations for piano?
Mike Garson: Well, it’s a great question. I’d been thinking about it for about 30/35 years, maybe more, but it was starting to feel right over the last five or ten years and I was thinking of doing it with a band and then different singers covering songs and then jazz arrangements, but I realised that nothing can top those recordings that David did are just perfect. So, if I am just honest and play my own variations and improvisations on his themes in the way I always kind of play, then I’m just paying respect to his music in a different way – like Bach wrote the Goldberg variations. So, the time just seemed right, you know – and not quite sure why, but I very much enjoyed doing the project.
BZ: The opening track on the new album is Space Oddity. You also have a bonus Alternate Take of the song closing the album. With your style of playing I can imagine there are actually many alternate takes of all of the albums tracks – would that be correct?
MG: Actually on this album, that was the only song that I did an alternative track of. I actually have another one – there were three Space Oddity’s I did and if I ever do a volume two of more David songs, which I would like to do – in which case I would do version three of Space Oddity, Aladdin Sane next time and Time and Lady Grinning Soul and some of those pieces in my own interpretation of course, just instrumentally – that’s the plan, but the other tracks were pretty much first takes. Space Oddity has been the only one that I’ve played live over the years – I’ve played it with my jazz trio, I’ve played it in concerts. Of course when I start touring I’ll be doing Life On Mars and maybe Changes and maybe John, I’m Only Dancing and of course this piece I wrote for David called Tribute To DB.
BZ: Track 9 on the Bowie Variations is called Tribute To DB. What can you tell us about this track – does it take in any of Bowie’s music, or is it a track of new (Mike Garson) music?
MG: It’a a totally new Mike Garson piece. I think there’s a vibe about it that somehow harmonically, and intention wise perhaps, sums up what I feel from his music and it’s a truly original piece – I didn’t base it on anything.
The Bowie Variations
“Whatever Mike lends his hands to invariably becomes something magical.”–David Bowie.
Beginning in 1972, super-versatile pianist Mike Garson performed, toured internationally and recorded with one of the most creative figures in popular music, David Bowie.
Having played the Bowie songbook in concert countless times, Garson always had the ambition to record his own original variations on these well-known themes. This is the year it came to fruition!