The Dresden Dolls’ Amanda Palmer Covers David Bowie on Collaborative ‘Strung Out in Heaven’ EP
The Dresden Dolls frontwoman Amanda Palmer and singer-songwriter Jherek Bischoff will drop a collaborative David Bowie covers EP tomorrow (Feb. 5), and in advance of its release, you can stream it in full via Palmer's Bandcamp. Listen below:
The Strung Out in Heaven EP comprises covers of Bowie’s “Blackstar,” “Space Oddity,” “Ashes to Ashes,” “Heroes,” “Helden” and Bischoff's instrumental rendition of “Life on Mars?” Palmer and Bischoff teamed up with Palmer’s husband, author Neil Gaiman, writer-director John Cameron Mitchell and Anna Calvi for the tribute EP. Palmer funded Strung Out in Heaven with donations from her crowdfunding Patreon account, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit cancer research at Tufts Medical Center. (Bowie died of liver cancer at the beginning of the year.) Palmer also sourced single artwork for each of the six songs from six different artists. Those can be seen at the bottom of the page.
Palmer discussed Bowie’s immense influence and the making of Strung Out in Heaven in a statement:
We found out he'd died - by text from Neil's daughter - at 3 a.m. in Santa Fe. We were visiting family, to introduce them to the newborn lying in bed beside us. A tiny fleshy reminder that Bowie, like our other friends, mentors and heroes who've been consumed by cancer in the past few months, was just...passing through. The baby is Ash. Dust to dust. Funk to Funky.
Music is the binding agent of our mundane lives. It cements the moments in which we wash the dishes, type the resumes, go to the funerals, have the babies. The stronger the agent, the tougher the memory, and Bowie was NASA-grade epoxy to a sprawling span of freaked-out kids over three generations. He bonded us to our weird selves. We can be us. He said. Just for one day.
The next day I was on the phone to Jherek, discussing another project (and I was feeling a bit trapped in the non-productive new-mother cave, so we joked that we should do a flash Bowie tribute. And suddenly, we weren't joking. I had funding from my 7,000 fans on Patreon to "make stuff." What better "stuff"? We started that night, giving ourselves a deadline of two weeks to release it as a surprise. I emailed a bunch of visual artist friends that night.
It didn't hit me until a week later, in the studio, why this was such a fitting project. We were immersing ourselves in Bowieland, living in the songs, super-glueing up some fresh wounds. Not just "knowing" the songs, but feeling the physical chords under our sad fingers, excavating the deeper architecture of the songwriting (especially with a tune as bizarre as "Blackstar," which we realized was constructed like a sonic Russian nesting doll).
Jherek worked like a madman: one day arranging each song, recording the strings in under four hours, and mixing in antoher two. He says recording the strings quartet for "Blackstar" in particular "was like therapy for the loss of such an incredible artist, and there was a palpable silence after every take as we sat in awe of the genius of The Thin White Duke."
John Cameron Mitchell, who most people know as the force behind "Hedwig," recorded the German and English for "Heroes"/"Helden" on his iPhone in his New York apartment. Anna Calvi, our honorary Brit, booked a studio in London on three days' notice.
Bowie worked on music up to the end to give us a parting gift. So this is how we, as musicians, mourn: keeping Bowie constantly in our ears and brains.
The man, the artist, exits. But the music, the glue; it stays. It never stops binding us together.
The EP will be available for purchase for $1 on Palmer’s Bandcamp tomorrow.
Strung Out in Heaven EP Track List
1. "Blackstar" (feat. Anna Calvi)
2. "Space Oddity" (feat. Neil Gaiman)
3. "Ashes to Ashes"
4. "Heroes" (feat. John Cameron Mitchell)
5. "Helden" (Single Version) (feat. John Cameron Mitchell)
6. Jherek Bischoff: "Life on Mars?" (instrumental)