At the 1970 Cincinnati Festival, the intrepid announcer is so clearly a fish out of water, it hurts. Shouldn’t he be presiding at a high school basketball game and not the collapse of civilization? The Stooges are hammering at the gates of the city with a three-chord arsenal and a leper-messiah. Iggy disappears into the crowd singing TV Eye during which The TV Eye proceeds to lose him. This is not obligatory mosh-pitting circa 1993. It’s some weird new sin. Buried amidst the scrum, he’s screaming, or is it singing, ‘I’m alright!!” to which a doubtful young girl can be heard asking, “are you alright?” Iggy resurrects with a jar of peanut butter in hand. Smearing it all over his body, he proceeds to walk across the next best thing to water: an outstretched sea of teenage wildlife. Way to go Ohio! The announcer continues with the color commentary lest TV-land thinks it’s spilt mayonnaise on the fifty-yard line: “That’s peanut butter.” Thank you Howard Cosell.
Long live the Ageless Reptilian! You can’t make this up. Sadder still, you can really never do it again. It’s been pretenders to the throne ever since, warmed-over instant replay. That dive is Iggy’s signature, his eternal moonwalk. Personae only get you so far. Soon you become a rock ‘n roll wardrobe which may be the ultimate fashion misstatement. Iggy was the Id of Rock ‘n Roll. He still can’t keep his shirt on–always laying bare, testifying like flesh on a leash. Pop’s V&A turn will require a small glass display in the corner labeled “Honesty”. The T-shirt kiosk will be light on poses and stacked with the emperor’s new clothes. Raw Power will remain undiluted and available in only one shade of vinyl–midnight blur. Iggy had a lust for life. Bowie had a penchant for artifice. The Stone and the Chimera. Such an oddest pair.
The Id is monosyllabic and indivisible. It’s not fucked up because it’s not confused. Whereas Bowie was always an auditorium addressing an auditorium, Jung’s most populous graduating class. There’s no chance Iggy will be covering “Heat” anytime soon: “I don’t know who I am”. It was always the Chimera laying down covers of the Rock anyway, never to better effect than the original. But that’s Iggy. Seminal. The Dot in Year Dot. You’d never ask mercury to do a stint as polystyrene. Mercury’s an element and a fleet-footed god. Even as an old man, the only thing he even closely resembles is a younger version of himself. But it’s immutability roiling within itself, not parody watching itself.
Like a lot of oppositions, when the Primal Scream met the Man-as-Team, cool dialectics happened. Some of Bowie’s best songs spilled out for rock’s perfect imperfect vessel. In an interview years later, Bowie would confess “If I could find someone else to sing my songs I would.” For a time, Iggy was Bowie unleashed, the Id beneath the artifice. What an amazing rock star they were in the 1977 era. Half was stone and half was wax. Unbelievable. Improbable. Combustible.