1964 2009

The Bowie Counterparts

In the months after Bowie’s death, Kian S. Bergstrom put up a wonderful list on Facebook in which he paired every single Bowie album with a thematically appropriate film (first) and book (second). Having just rediscovered this list in my files (I cut-and-pasted it at the time & feared I’d lost it), I felt like it should be shared more widely. Hope he doesn’t mind.

Some connections are obvious; others, not so much, but often quite inspired. All of these films and novels are worth checking out, in any case. As canons go, this is a superb one. Off to the library and streaming services, Bowie fans.

David Bowie [1967]: THIS SPORTING LIFE [Lindsay Anderson, 1963] & THE BUTTERFLY KID [Chester Anderson, 1967]

David Bowie [1969]: CABARET [Bob Fosse, 1972] & WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE [Shirley Jackson, 1962]

The Man Who Sold the World [1970]: CRUEL STORY OF YOUTH [Nagima Oshima, 1960] & THE COLLECTED WORKS OF BILLY THE KID [Michael Ondaatje, 1970]

Hunky Dory [1971]: CHELSEA GIRLS [Andy Warhol, 1966] & DISPATCHES [Michael Herr, 1977]

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars [1972]: PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE [Brian De Palma, 1974] & AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF RED [Anne Carson, 1998]

Aladdin Sane [1973]: LIQUID SKY [Slava Tsukerman, 1982] & BURNING CHROME [William Gibson, 1986]

Pin Ups [1973]: F FOR FAKE [Orson Welles, 1974]  & THE CHAIN OF CHANCE [Stanislaw Lem, 1976]

Diamond Dogs [1974]: BRAZIL [Terry Gilliam, 1985] & 1984 [George Orwell, 1948] (Obvious choice, but in this case I want it anyway)

David Live [1974]: THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE [Tobe Hooper, 1974] & NELLY’S VERSION [Eva Figes, 1977]

Young Americans [1975]: REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE [Nicholas Ray, 1955] & FRANNY & ZOOEY [J. D. Salinger, 1961]

Station to Station [1976]: THE PASSENGER [Michelangelo Antonioni, 1975] & CHIMERA [John Barth, 1972]

Low [1977]: CRASH [David Cronenberg, 1996] (Obvious choice is THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, but that’s too on-the-nose) & A SCANNER DARKLY [P. K. Dick, 1977]

“Heroes” [1977]: IN A YEAR OF 13 MOONS [R. W. Fassbinder, 1978] & TRITON [Samuel R. Delany, 1976]

Stage [1978]: USED CARS [Robert Zemeckis, 1980] & THE BOOK OF LAUGHTER AND FORGETTING [Milan Kundera, 1979]

Lodger [1979]: BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW [Panos Cosmatos, 2010] & HOW GERMAN IS IT (WIE DEUTSCH IST ES) [Walter Abish, 1980]

Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) [1980]: POSSESSION [Andrzej Żuławski, 1981] & WOLF STORY [William McCleery, 1947]

David Bowie in Bertolt Brecht’s Baal
[1982]: DIE 3 GROSCHENOPER [G. W. Pabst, 1931] & THE HANDMAID’S TALE [Margaret Atwood, 1985]

Let’s Dance [1983]: SID AND NANCY [Alex Cox, 1986] & EDWIN MULLHOUSE: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN AMERICAN WRITER, 1943-1954, BY JEFFREY CARTWRIGHT [Steven Millhauser, 1972]

Ziggy Stardust: the Motion Picture [1983]: ONE MAN UP [Paolo Sorrentino, 2001]  & THE DOUBLE [Jose Saramago, 2002]

Tonight [1984]: INTO THE NIGHT [John Landis, 1985] &  CITY OF GLASS [Paul Auster, 1985]

Never Let Me Down [1987]: STREETS OF FIRE [Walter Hill, 1984] & LONG RED HAIR [Meags Fitzgerald, 2015]

Tin Machine [1989]: DONNIE DARKO [Richard Kelly, 2001] & AN AFGHANISTAN PICTURE SHOW: OR HOW I SAVED THE WORLD [William T. Vollmann, 1992/2013]

Tin Machine II
[1991]: HARD-BOILED WONDERLAND AND THE END OF THE WORLD [Haruki Murakami, 1985] & KINDRED [Octavia Butler, 1979] *

Black Tie, White Noise
[1993]: MONSOON WEDDING {Mira Nair, 2001] & THE GROUND BENEATH HER FEET [Salman Rushdie, 1999]

The Buddha of Suburbia [1993]: MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDERETTE [Stephen Frears, 1985] & BREATH, EYES, MEMORY [Edwidge Danticat, 1994]

1. Outside [1995]: LOST HIGHWAY [David Lynch, 1997] & THE CIPHER [Kathe Koja, 1991]

Earthling [1997]: AEON FLUX [Peter Chung, 1991-5] & CELESTIAL MATTERS [Richard Garfinkle, 1996]

Hours… [1999]: CROUPIER [Mike Hodges, 1998] & LOST GIRLS [Alan Moore & Melina Gebbe, 2006]

Toy [2000]: L’ENFER [Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1964/2009] & THE ORIGINAL OF LAURA [Vladimir Nabokov, 1977/2009]

Heathen [2002]: CURE [Kurosawa Kiyoshi, 1997] & THE BLAZING WORLD [Siri Hustvedt, 2014]

Reality [2003]: CACHÉ [Michael Haneke, 2005] & HERE [Richard McGuire, 2014]

The Next Day [2013]: ZERO DARK THIRTY [Kathryn Bigelow, 2012] & GERTRUDE OF STONY ISLAND AVENUE [James Purdy, 1996]

[2016]: THE NEON DEMON [Nicholas Winding Refn, 2016] & PATIENCE [Daniel Clowes, 2016]

* two books for TMII, for whatever reason. If you need a film, maybe Dead Again.


James Victor “Vic” Chesnutt (November 12, 1964 – December 25, 2009) was an American singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia. His first album, Little, was released in 1990, but his breakthrough to commercial success didn’t come until 1996 with the release of Sweet Relief II: Gravity of the Situation, a tribute album of alternative artists covering his songs.

Chesnutt released 17 albums during his career, including two produced by Michael Stipe, and a 1996 release on Capitol Records, About to Choke. His musical style has been described by Bryan Carroll of allmusic.com as a “skewed, refracted version of Americana that is haunting, funny, poignant, and occasionally mystical, usually all at once”.

Injuries from a 1983 car accident left him partially paralyzed; he used a wheelchair and had limited use of his hands.

An adoptee, Chesnutt was raised in Zebulon, Georgia, where he first started writing songs at the age of five. When he was 13, Chesnutt declared that he was an atheist, a position that he maintained for the rest of his life.

At 18, a car accident left him partially paralyzed; in a December 1, 2009 interview with Terry Gross on her NPR show Fresh Air, he said he was “a quadriplegic from [his] neck down”, and although he had feeling and some movement in his body, he could not walk “functionally” and that, although he realized shortly afterward that he could still play guitar, he could only play simple chords.

On December 25, 2009, at the age of 45, Chesnutt died from an overdose of muscle relaxants that had left him in a coma in an Athens hospital. In his final interview, which aired on National Public Radio 24 days before his death, Chesnutt said that he had “attempted suicide three or four times [before]. It didn’t take.”

According to him in the same interview, being “uninsurable” due to his quadriplegia, he was $50,000 in debt for his medical bills, and had been putting off a surgery for a year (“And, I mean, I could die only because I cannot afford to go in there again. I don’t want to die, especially just because of I don’t have enough money to go in the hospital.”).


Best selling musicians of all time.

10. Whitney Houston

  • Album sales: 170-200 Million 
  • Years active: 1977-2012 
  • Best selling album: The Bodyguard, 45 Million copies sold. 

9. Celine Dion

  • Album sales:200+ Million 
  • Years active:1981-Present 
  • Best selling album: Falling Into You, 32 Million copies sold. 

8. Mariah Carey

  • Album sales:200+ Million 
  • Years active: 1988-Present 
  • Best selling album: Music Box, 32 Million copies sold. 

7. Pink Floyd

  • Album sales:250 Million 
  • Years active:1965-1996, 2014 
  • Best selling album: The Dark Side of The Moon, 50 Million copies sold. 

6. Led Zeppelin

  • Album sales: 250-300 Million 
  • Years active: 1968-1980 
  • Best selling album: Led Zeppelin IV, 37 Million copies sold. 

5. Elton John

  • Album sales: 300 Million 
  • Years active: 1964-Present 
  • Best selling album: Elton John’s Greatest Hits, 16 Million copies sold. 

4. Madonna

  • Album sales:300+ Million 
  • Years active:1979-Present 
  • Best selling album: The Immaculate Collection, 30 Million copies sold. 

3. Michael Jackson

  • Album sales:400 Million 
  • Years active: 1964-2009 
  • Best selling album:Thriller, 65 Million copies sold. *Highest Selling Album Of All Time* 

2. Elvis

  • Album sales:500-600 Million 
  • Years active: 1954-1977 
  • Best selling album:? 

1. The Beatles

  • Album sales:600+ Million 
  • Years active:1960-1970 
  • Best selling album: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, 32 Million copies sold.